Recent Posts



No tags yet.

What is Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking?

(Image Source:Photo by Ira Gelb. Flickr Creative Commons)

What is Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking?

The term 'Modern Slavery' is often used with insufficient knowledge as to its’ definition or intentions. The distinction held between what is deemed ‘modern slavery’ from the pre-existing Slave Trade is a movement from ‘chattel slavery/ownership’ to one of ‘exploitation’.

This is particularly problematic when trying to combat and prevent Human Trafficking, as one example of Modern Slavery. Julia O’Connell Davidson, per contra, endorses that the fight against ‘modern slavery’ is on the political agenda, however, critiques the fact the fight against slavery does not actually address what the phenomena is (O'Connell Davidson, 2015) and henceforth leads to the discussion of the ability (or lack thereof) to tackle or prevent its causes and consequences at either the International or National level.

The International framework that intends to combat trafficking is provided in the UN International Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children 2000 (Palmero Protocol) which supplements the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC).

Trafficking in persons is defined under Article 3(a) ‘…recruitment, transportation…by means of threat or use of force, coercion…deception for the purpose of sexual exploitation’, while Sex Trafficking, is defined under the UN Mandate on Contemporary Forms of Slavery is seen as a form of a ‘commercial sexual act induced by force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery’ (Gilbertson, 2015).

The Process of Human Trafficking and Causes (Zimmerman, 2011)

The process of Human Trafficking (recruitment, transportation, exploitation), theorised by Siddharth Kara (Professor of Law, Harvard University) as a disease with particular points of vulnerability by ‘dissecting the anatomy of the industry’ (Kara, 2009) and targeting the supply-side, thus formulating a greater means of creating a system for a cure of this disease.

The process of Human Trafficking, therefore, can be intercepted at stages of Recruitment and Transportation prior to the ‘Exploitation’ phase, largely given the greatest focus in the understanding, combating and criminal enforcement as opposed to the required implementation of a means of prevention from the Trafficking process. There also needs to be greater forms of rehabilitation, reintegration processes in order to prevent re-trafficking and social stigma within society as well as the severe consequences in sexual health and mental health.


Primary Sources

UN International Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children 2000 (Palmero Protocol)

UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC)

Secondary Sources

Kara, S. (2009). Sex Trafficking. Inside the Business of Modern Slavery. Columbia University Press.

O'Connell Davidson, J. (2015). The Margins of Freedom Modern Slavery. Palgrave MacMillan.

Stewart, A. (2011). Gender, Law and Justice in a Global Market. Cambridge University Press.

Zimmerman C, Hossain M, C W. Human trafficking and health: a conceptual model to inform policy, intervention and research. Social Science & Medicine, 2011, 73(2):327–35.

  • @supplyunchained
  • LinkedIn

Supply Unchained Ltd. Company Trading Name (Supply Unchained) & Registration Number (10830008). 
Copyright © Supply Unchained 2020. All Rights Reserved.