Demand for Trafficked Persons

Anti-trafficking advocates argue that human trafficking exists because there is a demand for cheap goods and labour and the provision of sexual services. They suggest that the most effective way to combat human trafficking is to eliminate the demand that fosters the exploitation of men, women, and children.

The Trafficking in Persons Protocol acknowledges the role demand plays in human trafficking. Article 9, section 5 of the Protocol commits signatory countries to address the demand of labour and services:

“States Parties shall adopt or strengthen legislative or other measures, such as educational, social or cultural measures, including through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, to discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children that leads to trafficking.”

The ILO report The Mekong Challenge Human Trafficking: Redefining Demand (PDF) states:

"A conventional anti-trafficking perspective of [human trafficking cases] would focus predominantly on the [trafficked persons], their background and the root causes of them being there, which would then concentrate, most likely, on the tangled web of poverty, gender discrimination and lack of awareness. But that focus would only show half the picture. More precisely, it would ignore the real cause of their being [exploited]."

"A deeper perspective would look at the destination factors, or the demand side of trafficking."

The report also offers the following questions to ask when looking to understand and address issues of demand:

  • Who are the traffickers, the recruiters, and others involved?
  • Who are the consumers of the products that trafficked persons are making or the services they are providing?
  • What is it that enables exploitation and trafficking without anyone noticing?
  • How does the global demand for cheap goods, labour services, and sex services translate into modern day slavery?

Canada’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking also identifies demand for sexual services as a cause for human trafficking: "The Government's view is that prostitution victimizes the vulnerable and that demand for sexual services can be a contributing cause of human trafficking".

In the following video, you will see how potential consumers (the "demand" side of sexual exploitation and human trafficking) react when "things are not what they seem". Warning – contains explicit content.

Girls in Red Light District

(Video runtime 1:40) Video created by Duval Guillaume Modem and monodot in support of Stop the Traffik

(Transcript for the Girls in Red Light District video.)

 

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