12:00 AM, May 08, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:50 AM, May 29, 2015


Timeline of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking and exploitation have been in existance across the globe for thousands of years. From the ancient Greek and Romans to the medieval times, and up until today, humans have been subject to various forms of physical and sexual slavery. Below are some of the more salient points in history related to human trafficking.


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Although forms of slavery existed before the 1400, the 1400s marked the start of European slave trading in Africa with the Portuguese transporting people from Africa to Portugal and using them as slaves. In 1562, the British joined in on the slave trade in Africa. The development of plantation colonies increased the volume of the slave trade. Later on throughout the 1600s, other countries became more involved in the European slave trade. These included Spain, North America, Holland, France, Sweden, and Denmark.


RANAWAY from the subscriber two negro slaves, viz TONEY and JOHN. Toney is about 35 years of age, five feet nine or ten inches high, dark complexion, square and stout build and had on when he left, a bright drab Petersham overcoat. He was purchased by me of Mr. Richard Brasley of Wilmington, and calls himself Toney Montague. John is about twenty years of age, of rather lighter complexion than Toney, about five feet 10 inches high, and is quite stout but has a full round face, and has lost two front teeth above and below which is his most distinguishing mark. He had on when he left, a light grey woolen round Jacket and pantaloons.
The above slaves left the camp of the subscriber while on his way to the Western country, eight miles above Lincolnton, on 28t of last month, and will no doubt endeavor to make their way back to Wilmington. The above reward will be given for their apprehension, so that I get them again.


In 1904, the International Agreement for the Suppression of "White Slave Traffic" was signed and put into action. The purpose of this agreement was to protect women from being involved in "white slave traffic." 









The League of Nations was founded after the WWI, and had the goal maintaining world peace and also focusing on international issues such as human trafficking. The Suppression of White Slave Traffic was changed to "traffic in women and children" so that everyone was included with no discrimination to race ("When"). Children of both genders were also recognized as victims of trafficking. In addition, two major studies were conducted, one in the West and one in the East, in an attempt to find out the real status of trafficking in these areas. 


During WWII, Japan had set up a horrifying and outrageous system where women all across Asia were forced into sexual slavery. The women were housed in what were known as "comfort stations." The conditions in these stations were atrocious, with each woman detained in a small cubicle, and received beatings and other tortures if they were defiant. Because of this, many women ultimately died of disease, malnutrition, exhaustion, suicide, etc.


 In 1956, India initiated the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, which persecutes the third parties involved in trafficking. These activities included running brothels, living on earnings from sex work, capturing and imprisoning people into prostitution. It can be argued, that this Act failed to protect the women who may have been forced into prostitution. Many of the arrests that were made were for sex workers due to soliciting, and they ultimately lost everything. Furthermore, many were forced from brothels into more dangerous areas.


In 1995, the United Nations held the fourth World Conference to address the issue of trafficking of women. In this meeting, a major accomplishment was the fact that trafficking was actually recognised as an act of violence against women, and the concept of trafficking was further defined. Most importantly, actions to be taken were also developed. 


In 2008, a case emerged where several migrants were found to be illegally smuggled into Thailand by traffickers. Fifty-seven of these migrants suffocated to death while being transported after being confined in a seafood container where the air-conditioning system malfunctioned. There were 67 survivors of the journey, and they told of how they had hopes of finding work in Thailand, but conditions in the lorry suddenly became 


In 2009, a large human trafficking ring was busted in Taipei, Taiwan. The case involved several young females who were brought to the U.S. illegally with fake passports. They then used these fake passports to obtain visas. They were discovered by the US authorities. A total of 74 suspects from the trafficking ring were brought in for investigation. 


President Obama declared January to be Human Trafficking Awareness month, and January 11, 2011 was named National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. On this day, various individual, as well as group events took place to increase awareness about human trafficking. The Alliance to End Human Trafficking began a campaign to ask the government to take a serious look at trafficking by renewing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.






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