Human trafficking is a crime. Local and international law typify it as the act of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, against their will, by means of the threat or use of force, or other forms of coercion, for the purpose of exploitation.
Trafficking in persons has different exploitation purposes, as well as slavery. Among the major forms of this crime, are commercial sexual exploitation and work exploitation. In addition, it is worth mentioning, forced marriages, begging, trafficking in human organs, child pornography and the recruitment for the organized crimes, etc.
Most of the time, the crime of trafficking in persons is behind criminal structures, with a strong organization that works based on lies, abductions, coercion and abuse of power.
According to UNODC, in 2016 more than 4 millions people were victims of human trafficking. Most of the victims are women and girls. They stated, in the Global report of human trafficking, women and children being just as much 87%.
Human trafficking affects almost every country in the world. Some are among the transit countries, others are target countries and others, source countries. For example, North America and Western Europe are target countries, they harbor human trafficking victims. Whilst South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe appear among the countries that victims come from. Central America, South Asia and Saharan Africa are, mainly, countries of transit.
This harmful social evil, includes 3 main actors. Two of which are obvious: the victim and the human trafficker (criminal networks). In addition, the third actor is the client, term recently incorporated.
The victim is anyone that is private of its freedom, with abuse of power and threatens, for any form of exploitation. Usually, the victim suffers the consequences of this crime: health problems, STD’s, drugs addiction, psychological and emotional effects, among others.
The human trafficker is anyone that is involved in one of the criminal functions of the trafficking networks. That means, according to the Palermo Protocols, recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons for any exploitation purposes. Those traffickers, usually, belongs to criminal networks of human trafficking.
In respect to the client, we can say that is the main link: If there are no customers, there are no human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery and the fight against it is very recent. One of the first efforts to eliminate it arose in the first part of 20 century, in 1926, with “The Slavery Convention”, of the UN. It was not until 1949, when the term “Human Trafficking” was born with the “Convention to Suppress the Slave Trade and Slavery”. The global legal battle became stronger in 2000, with “Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime” and its 2 protocols: “Palermo” and “Against the Smuggling of Migrants”
To date, more than 158 countries has adhered and, in consequence, modified/legislated against the human trafficking crime. Guatemala is among them, and since 2009 has modified its Penal Code and created the Law against Sexual Violence, Exploitation and Human Trafficking -LEYVET-.