Human trafficking or modern-day slavery

Human trafficking or modern-day slavery

Human trafficking or modern-day slavery

HUMAN trafficking is a grave violation of human rights. It is gaining in both intensity and complexity as countries around the world are increasingly becoming interdependent. Not to mention the effects of globalization which have almost eliminated both imaginary and even actual borders between states.
The United Nations has addressed the issue of human trafficking that focuses on sexual exploitation, forced labor, and removal of human organs and tissues for sale fueled by a demand in the organ transplant market.
Though the meanings of prostitution and extraction of organs are legally and colloquially have clear meanings, the term modern-day slavery used by the media to refer to forced labor confuses its legal meaning. Hence, the term modern-day slavery is inadequate to describe the magnitude of the problem of forced labor, which has reached heinous proportions.
The term “forced labor,” common in legal and colloquial parlance to refer to modern-day slavery is inadequate to describe the magnitude of the problem which has reached heinous proportions.
History is replete with migrations of people from one place to another to improve their standards of living and for a better future. In fact, some faiths and cultures encourage migration and relocation as it is perceived to be a reflection of one’s indomitable will to attain higher goals.
However, the economic disparity within a specific region and between countries, which triggers migrations, may lead to exploitation resulting in the phenomenon of forced labor or modern-day slavery as it is now colloquially known.
Thus, the term, “modern-day slavery” is emotionally charged and has a negative connotation as it is inappropriate to call the victims of forced labor, slaves. It not only denigrates their basic humanity, but also because slavery is virtually non-existent in today’s world.
The serious nature of this wide-ranging issue calls for local and international legislation to bridge the gap between the rich northern and poor southern hemispheres and between the “haves” and “have-nots” in different political regions. This means that the UN, the World Bank and other international political bodies ought to coordinate among themselves in efforts to eliminate human exploitation as far as possible.
From a legal perspective “slavery” is categorized under criminal behavior. The elements of a criminal act, i.e. intent and knowledge as well as the act, are all applied in its analysis and judgment.
If forced labor is defined as modern-day slavery, almost the entire international community would be involved in this crime, especially those countries that invite “guest workers.”
Defining guest workers as modern-day slaves in a country that employs them in its projects incriminates both the host country and the respective home country of guest workers, the latter being partner or accomplice to the crime.
The international criminal law clearly defines and marks slavery as one of those crimes that falls under crimes against humanity along with genocide and aggression. This complicates the issue of guest workers further as they are usually selected by local recruitment offices that are licensed by their respective governments.
Furthermore, most countries have made it an economic policy to rely on their human forces as an integral source of foreign currency and their remittances make up a relatively large percentage of their annual budget.
Hence, those countries that rely on hard currency remitted by their nationals would be considered accomplices in the crime of modern-day slavery as the elements of guilt of the intent and the act have been established.
Fortunately, the GCC countries, including Saudi Arabia have taken strong legal, social and health measures to counter the issues of human trafficking, especially with regard to sexual exploitation and child labor.
Although the Saudi government does not regulate or facilitate these practices in an organized manner, it has addressed the issue of guest workers and domestic helpers.
The Saudi labor law ensures a safe and clean working environment and made medical insurance for employees mandatory. The amended contracts of domestic helps contain clauses that guarantee steady wage payments, weekends off, annual and sick leaves, and good living and working conditions.
That said, more should be done to improve the living conditions of low-skilled laborers. More importantly, employees should be aware of their rights and encouraged to demand their maintenance and protection when violated.
In this light, the use of the term “modern-day slavery” should be taken out from the lexicon as it is not only denigrating but it also confuses the legal aspect of this humanitarian issue.

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