Understandings and Approaches to Human Trafficking in the Middle East

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In 2013, the ILO (International Labour Organization) reported the Middle East to be the primary destination for trafficking victims, as they calculated that there are around 600,000 forced labour victims within the region to date (13). This seemingly widespread issue of human trafficking within the Middle East has been subject to significant media coverage and global debate. There are three major elements at the centre of this debate: issues around the interpretations of the widely accepted UN’s Palermo Protocol’s definition of human trafficking, concerns in regards to the depictions of victims of human trafficking, and questions regarding what are the most effective strategies in preventing certain kinds of trafficking. As much of the…show more content…
They also state that currently, “all countries of the Middle East have ratified the Palermo Protocol” (123). The protocol outlines 3 elements of trafficking – the act, the means, and the purpose – and defines human trafficking in Article 3, paragraph (a):
(a) “Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs (20)
Mahdavi and Sargent in their article critique this definition in more depth, arguing that there is ambiguity within the definition to which they state “enabled multiple, selective, and contradictory understandings of what human trafficking does or does not entail” (13) and that it has “grossly misconstrued the true complexity and heterogeneity of the phenomenon of human trafficking in continuum of coercion/consent along which migration and labour occur” (15). While the definition is quite ambiguous, and contains many gaps,
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