Element 3: The Purpose of Exploitation, or Why it is Done

The purpose or purposes for which traffickers use the people they traffic may vary, but the ultimate goal of all traffickers is the same: they exploit other human beings for profit — which can be a financial gain or material benefit.

Traffickers exploit others for a variety of purposes:

  • Sexual Exploitation
    A person trafficked for sexual exploitation is forced to provide sexual acts against their will for the financial benefit or material gain of the trafficker.
  • Forced Labour
    "All work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily." (ILO Convention on Forced Labour). In the context of human trafficking, a person trafficked for forced labour is made to work for little or no pay, or may be paid a full wage, but then forced to return most of it in cash to the trafficker.

Forced Marriage

Forced marriage is a type of human rights abuse similar to human trafficking. In cases of forced marriage one or both spouses are controlled, coerced and/or deceived into entering or staying in the marriage. Once in the forced marriage, one spouse — and perhaps their extended family — may control the other and compel them into domestic servitude or sexual exploitation and in some cases both. Individuals who experience forced marriage can be subjected to the same kinds of abuses, threats, and slavery-like practices that a trafficked person experiences. 

The work may be in a legitimate setting, such as a farm, factory, or restaurant, or in an illegal setting,
such as a drug lab or sweatshop.

Forced labour might also involve using a person as a drug mule — forcing them to transport and deliver drugs—
sometimes across international borders. Children are often exploited in this way.

In fact, a number of Honduran boys were forced by traffickers to sell drugs on the streets of Vancouver.

Forced labourers often work and live in the same location, and work under sub-standard, unhealthy and unsafe conditions, with little or no protective gear.

The U.N. 2012 Global Report on Human Trafficking estimates the presence of forced labour in the Americas: "Forced labour is common in the Americas, accounting for 44 per cent of cases of detected victims. Sexual exploitation was involved in slightly more than half of detected cases. Most victims detected in the Americas are female. Children account for about 27 per cent of detected trafficking victims in the region."

  • Domestic Servitude
    Domestic servitude is a form of forced labour and is defined as slavery or bondage.

    A person trafficked as a domestic servant may be forced to clean the house, do the laundry, cook meals, maintain the lawns and gardens, and look after the children, elderly relatives, and pets. Most trafficked domestic servants are required to be available at all times and work every day, for little or no pay, and they are often verbally, physically, and sexually abused by members of the household. The trafficked person may have no control over their travel or identity documents, such as their passport, which may be confiscated by the employer/trafficker.

My Story: I was first forced by my father into marriage when I was nearly eighteen years old.  My husband changed my name to Sharon and his family cut my long hair and insisted that I wear skirts. After having two children, I was forced to abort my third pregnancy. I managed to take my two children and leave the marriage, only to be coerced into another marriage by my sister. Bottom-line, I was a Canadian Passport for her husband's nephew.

- Neha

  • Forced or Coerced Organ Removal
    Kidneys, livers, and hearts in particular are in high demand around the world for people who need a replacement organ, but can’t find a legitimate organ donor.

    The organ removal is often conducted in clandestine clinics, with little or no attention given to the trafficked person’s post-operative care. The organ is then sold on the international black market for large amounts of money; if the trafficked person survives the surgery, they may receive a tiny portion of that money.

Canadians Involved in Organ Trafficking Case in Kosovo

“Jonathan Ratel, a Canadian prosecutor working for the European Union mission in the Balkans led a landmark case against several human organ traffickers in Kosovo. The case found that at least 24 kidney transplants involving 48 donors and recipients were carried out between 2008 and 2009. Organ donor victims were promised $10,000 - $12,000 in return for their kidneys but many said they were never paid. The kidney recipients paid up to $170,000 for the procedure and the defendants are believed to have profited $1 million from the transplants. A Canadian man admitted to purchasing a black-market kidney abroad and was one of more than 100 witnesses to the trial”.


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