Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Louise Shelley's "Human Trafficking"

Louise Shelley is Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective, and reported the following:
My book, Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective (Cambridge, 2010) examines all forms of human trafficking globally, revealing the operations of the trafficking business and the nature of the traffickers themselves. Using a historical and comparative perspective, it demonstrates that there is more than one business model of human trafficking and that there are enormous variations in human trafficking in different regions of the world. I conclude that human trafficking will grow in the twenty-first century as a result of economic and demographic inequalities in the world, the rise of conflicts, and possibly global climate change.

Page 99 of the book is halfway into the third chapter devoted to Human Trafficking as Transnational Organized Crime. This section on the recruitment of trafficking victims addresses some of the major themes of the book that citizens of failed post-socialist transitions, individuals displaced by conflicts, and large scale natural disasters are likely victims of human trafficking. As the book shows, the last twenty years have been ones of significant growth in human trafficking as the Soviet Union and other socialist states collapsed, the end of the superpower conflict resulted in the rise of numerous conflicts internationally. Moreover, with increased problems of climate change, the number of natural disasters has increased leaving ever larger numbers susceptible to exploitation.

Page 99 focuses on two particular regions in which victims are recruited: the former Soviet Union and Iraq. In contrast to many books on human trafficking, this book focuses on labor as well as sexual trafficking. Trafficking from the former Soviet Union is not only the widely publicized trafficking of women for sexual exploitation. Rather a larger number of victims are those exploited within the countries of the former Soviet Union as laborers. Particularly numerous are the male trafficking victims from Central Asia who work in Russia and Kazakhstan where they often work long hours without days off for substandard wages or are even deprived of their wages. These illegal workers are often poorly educated, unlike their counterparts in the United States, who were once highly trained professionals but are now working in menial work in the American shadow economy.

The discussion of Iraq shows that human smuggling and trafficking out of Iraq preceded the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. In Kurdish Iraq, in the late 1990s, a sophisticated business existed that smuggled individuals out of the country. Families would sell their homes to pay for the high costs of smuggling hoping to get members out of the country who could repatriate money or establish a foothold overseas. This smuggling was not always successful and Kurds were sometimes imprisoned as illegal immigrants in Europe. Or, as is shown elsewhere in the book, those who started out in a consensual relationship with their smugglers wind up as trafficking victims.
Read an excerpt from Human Trafficking, and learn more about the book at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue