What is Human Trafficking?

Human Trafficking occurs when a person or people are recruited, transported, and kept against their will through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit.

It can involve moving someone across international borders, or within a single country or city, but always with the intention of exploiting or abusing them in some way to make money.

The most common forms of Human Trafficking involve sexual exploitation and forced labour, however other examples include domestic servitude, forced begging, criminal exploitation such as drug dealing and fraud, forced marriage, and organ harvesting.

Human Trafficking is not the same as People Smuggling. When a person is Trafficked they are either doing it against their will, or have been deceived or coerced in some way into making the journey. People Smuggling, or ‘Migrant Smuggling,’ whilst often dangerous, and done as a result of fleeing conflict or some other danger, is done with the free will of the participants.

Many Trafficking victims will begin their journey not realising they are in danger until it is too late. They put their trust in someone who offers them a job or opportunity for a better life, only to find themselves imprisoned against their will when they arrive at their destination, or forced to pay back exorbitant ‘debts’ by working for free.

If they are a foreign national who has been trafficked into the UK, their lack of documents or relevant visas, often make them too scared to approach authorities for help for fear of arrest or deportation.

British victims of Trafficking who have been forced or coerced through physical or sexual violence, into travelling around the country to commit fraud or deal drugs, are more likely to be treated as criminals rather than victims if they seek help, so are reluctant to cooperate with authorities.

City Hearts About Face Service Manager, Stuart Otten, has worked with many victims of Trafficking and forced criminality, but was still upset by Sir Mo Farah’s revelations that he was also a victim of Trafficking.

“I think it surprised me how emotional I got as I watched Sir Mo Farah talk through his story,” he said.
“It was hard seeing and hearing the trauma in his eyes and voice as he described being separated from his family, and the fact this was all being done to him at such a young age and against his will.

“Working for an organisation like City Hearts means you hear similar stories to Mo’s quite often, but it never gets easier. It doesn’t matter who it is telling the story, it’s heart-breaking.
Most people won’t look at Mo and see a victim, and that is an amazing testament to him and the people around him who helped him move to the point he finds himself in today.

But if it’s happening to the ‘Sir Mo Farah’s’ of this world, then it really could be happening to that aloof young boy you see at school or that teenager displaying anti-social behaviour who can’t quite look you in the eye.

“I hear the phrase ‘professional curiosity’ all the time in my work, and as professionals we need to be curious and ask questions when things don’t seem quite right.

“But I think we also all need to show a bit more ‘human curiosity’ as well.

“People, no matter who they are. They’re just a human, like the rest of us, going through stuff.”