Sex trafficking is a lucrative business. As the world’s oldest profession it is now one of the fastest growing in an industry worth billions. The United Nations estimates that human trafficking generates more than $31.6 billion each year which makes it the second-most lucrative illicit market in the global economy after the drug trade. It is calculated that 2.5 million people are trafficked each year, of which 1.2 million are children. It has survived the global financial crunch and continues to grow year upon year.
Sex trafficking is a heinous crime and violates every basic human right with which an individual is born.
Managed by criminals, this modern day slavery seeks out victims in dire circumstances who are vulnerable to traffickers; runaway teens, displaced home makers, refugees, mental health patients, kidnapped victims and drug addicts - the traffickers do not discriminate.
Traffickers exploit vulnerabilities and lack of opportunities by offering false promises of marriage, employment, education, and promises of better lives in the West. However, in the end, traffickers force the victims to become prostitutes, work in the sex industry and by the time the victims realise what awaits them, it is too late. They are sold like cattle in a meat market, raped and are forced to pass on their earnings to their owners.
Once these victims are in these situations, they face abuse at the hands of many and live in dangerous circumstances. The captors treat these victims as commodities; the ring leaders tend to know a significant amount about the victims, such as details on their family back home. Therefore, in order to ‘risk manage’ their investments, these victims are made to feel indebted or threatened with death to themselves or their loved ones, if they do not comply. Those who do escape having entered the country illegally are often too scared to go to the authorities and, seeing no way out, are trapped in a vicious circle.
This industry was brought to the forefront of global media by a case in 2012 which was pushed through by a defiant mother - Susana Trimarco. A court in Argentina has found 13 people not guilty of abducting her daughter Maritia and forcing her into prostitution. Even though the verdict was disappointing, the case highlighted a symbolic fight of one woman in search for a daughter whom she lost a decade ago.
Following Maritia's disappearance in 2002, Susana joined a human trafficking gang posing as a buyer interested in purchasing women. Despite being targeted for two murder attempts, countless death threats and having her house burnt down, her tireless search did not diminish. She acted as an informant which led to police raids and rescued dozens of women who were being sexually exploited.
Prostitution was then and still remains to be legal in Argentina. Incredibly in 2002 when 23-year-old Marita disappeared, human trafficking was not yet a crime in Argentina. In 2008, however, Susana's struggle and resilience paid off in pushing for legislation to be passed. Human trafficking was finally made a crime. Since this law came into effect almost 3,000 people have been rescued from human traffickers in Argentina.
Shockingly, this is not just an international distant concern. Such matters exist here in the UK, where not only women, but also men have succumbed to and/or been trapped in a vicious cycle due to similar vulnerability and more recently the economic downturn.
Eleven years on, Susana Trimarco is still searching for her daughter. In this search many have been saved and a historical legislative change has been implemented, however Susana Trimarco still has unanswered questions.
This remarkable shift is an act of one woman. Her fight for a lost daughter has created that ripple effect of change Restless Beings strongly advocates, truly displaying the potency of a person’s will to change the norm, especially in the fight for womens rights.