by Mila NY on March 24, 2017 - 10:26am




When a huge network of crime like trafficking exists, I ask myself what is it that we can possibly do? Should we understand this through an individual perspective (case by case), or is this a matter that can only be resolved through collective action? Most of the time, trafficking occurs when there is a dysfunction in society, and that dysfunction can be an outcome of political action or a lack of political intervention. Now, in that case, we would be looking at human trafficking through the discipline of political science, which is, according to McGill, the study of politics and the impact of fiscal policy on public relations, economy, and multiculturalism (http://www.mcgill.ca/politicalscience/about-us/research). Recently, I read an article about the escalating rate of trafficked victims in India. It’s sad to imagine that women and children from Eastern States of West Bengal are the main targets because of their uneducated and impoverished background (http://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/indian-social-activists-use-comic-book-characters-to-raise-human-trafficking-awareness-among-children-273138.html). From that detail, I can imagine the great disparities of wealth in India, where the poor are constantly endangered and the rich live in indulgence. There is clearly a systemic nature of victimization in India, too. Think of their caste system, the segregation of people on the basis of their classes; the brahmins, the vaishyas, the untouchables (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35650616). That caste system has only created the belief that some individuals (untouchables) are just not worth the effort to be saved. Hence, to save trafficked victims, people need to collectively rid that belief by countering it with systemic changes, and that itself needs government action, thus politics.


But what other disciplines can politics deal with, and what needs to be especially implied when we talk of human trafficking? A conversation on crime brings in a discussion on laws. Law, according the Faculty of Law in McGill, is the output of State institutions and “a cultural expression in which we are all involved” (http://www.mcgill.ca/law/research/research-themes). I had difficulty understanding what that meant, but now I relate it back to the caste system in India, which grew from their cultural practice and continues to cling unto the present, causing the lower class to be victimized and left unsaved. When I think of law, I think of a history of progress, because laws are modified or established when society realizes that something about their situation needs to be done. Sometimes, laws help us realize a previous period of humiliation, like slavery which occurred before it was abolished through the 13th Amendment in United States. Yet, modern-slavery (human trafficking) still exists. That, obviously, makes me really skeptical that every individual has human rights, like what United Nations claims. Then again, government needs to be in charge of executing these laws. Take Hong Kong, for example, where countless local articles write about found trafficked victims. In December 2016, a Pakistani victim sued the authorities for ignoring his complaints by imprisoning him for illegal entry (http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/2057706/human-traff...). This, clearly, shows how the legislative framework is not equipped with dealing with victims of human trafficking. Once again, I have to mention that laws are always in the process of change, but it takes the State’s action to bring in change and make it  so that victims are saved, protected, and not falsely accused.


I believe governmental intervention and laws are the general disciplines people associate when talking about human trafficking; but, I cannot stress how mental institutions are also a huge contributor to the issue. Victims’ psychology are greatly affected when trafficked; that’s not a question.  All victims of any kind of abuse end up having, to some extent, psychological trauma— individuals who suffered domestic violence, for example, develop such a great trauma that they are afraid to escape from their abusers. What behaviours they exhibit after taking all that mistreatment is incomprehensible for those who never endured such. So, knowledge on psychology, which is the “work [that] seeks to understand behaviour at multiple levels of analyses all the way from genes to complex behaviours” (http://www.mcgill.ca/psychology/research-0), is extremely crucial when helping trafficked victims. However, I want to pay particular attention to the cultural aspect that is attached to the study of psychology. All mental institutions across the world adopt a specific cultural lens when treating patients, but can this really be helpful to victims of human trafficking? No, because these victims are most likely illegally transported from their homeland to their host land; hence, mental health practitioners cannot associate their symptoms as pathological or cultural. Since psychology also studies the impact of cultural norms on individual's psychology, it is, therefore, important that mental health care professionals are educated about various cultural practices in order to better understand victims of human trafficking. 



New Laws but few cases: understanding the challenges to the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases:


Sex Trafficking: Trends, Challenges, and the Limitation of International Law


The Relationship of Trauma to Mental Disorders among Trafficked and Sexually Exploited Girls and Women


State responsibility  for human trafficking- perspective from Malta.







About the author

An art-enthusiast who is diagnosed with the incurable disease of wanderlust and traveled throughout the continent of North and South America, Europe, and Asia.