By Keelan Jacques
In investigating the social causes of human trafficking, we find that the exploitation of people by human traffickers is driven by two types of factors: Push and Pull.
Push factors create circumstances that expose people to human traffickers. According to the Cambridge dictionary, a push factor is “something that makes people want to leave a place or escape from a particular situation.” This ‘pushes’ people into the dangers of human trafficking, as the desperate desire to leave or escape from a certain situation or location is preyed upon by traffickers. There are a wide variety of push factors that enable the exploitation of people by human traffickers. This includes factors like poverty, civil war and natural disasters.
Push factors are often coupled with ‘pull factors’ in human trafficking situations. A pull factor is defined as “something that attracts people to a place or an activity.” With respect to human trafficking, a pull factor is a tactic that a human trafficker uses to entice people into capture; e.g. a job offer, increased salary or a relocation opportunity. Where push factors create opportunities for traffickers, pull factors draw people towards traffickers with false promises. Pull factors involve false promises for economic stability and improved quality of life.
Push factors enable pull factors, as the desire someone has to leave or escape from a particular situation (push factor) is met with false promises of stability and improved quality of life (pull factor).
Examples of Push Factors of Human trafficking:
Poverty, civil war and natural disasters are some examples of push factors. Civil war and political unrest result in the presence of hostile situations worldwide. Countries that have widespread instability, lack of resources and increased human rights infringements may provide opportunities for human traffickers. Similarly, natural disasters can also create instability and a lack of resources, which can also lead to opportunities for human traffickers. There is at present, a demand for more data on the push factors/social determinants and causes of human trafficking.
However, the Health and Human Rights Journal (HHR) has identified 61 relevant published articles that have addressed the contributing factors and social causes of human trafficking in Southeast Asia. The HHR recognises Southeast Asia as the ‘greatest hub’ for human trafficking in the world.
In the region, according to the HHR, the three most cited social determinants from published articles were poverty (77%), gender (59%) and lack of policy enforcement (52%). Poverty appeared as the most common social causes of human trafficking in the case study and it continues to be a significant push factor. The United Nations (UN) outlined its first sustainable goal in 2012, which is to reduce poverty to half by 2030. According to the UN, “80 percent of people living on less than $1.90 are in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.” Hence, poverty continues to contribute to the high rates of human trafficking in those areas.
Examples of Pull Factors of Human trafficking:
Pull factors boast about offering stability, improved quality of life, economic and social opportunities in human trafficking situations. According to highspeedtraining.co.uk, pull factors can manifest through manipulative tactics such as seduction and romance, false job advertisements (often hospitality or tourism related) or lies about educational or travel opportunities.
These tactics are more effective and less direct than the use of abduction and slave trading since they use manipulative tactics. Human traffickers entice victims with offers of stability, improved quality of life and economic/social opportunities to draw in unaware targets. Dosomething.org reports that there is a discernible “growing trend of traffickers using online social media platforms to recruit and advertise targets of human trafficking.” This represents a considerable threat as a modern medium for pull factor tactics.
How to Help Minimize Human Trafficking & Mitigate the influence of Push & Pull Factors
- Buy Fair Trade items
- Volunteer for an organization that tackles human trafficking
- Spread the stories of human trafficking victims
- Know the indicators and red flags of potential labor and sex trafficking victims
- Alert the authorities if you suspect human trafficking
- Consider becoming a foster parent!
Do you suspect human trafficking in your school? Or do you know of another child who may be in danger? You have an obligation to report it to the proper authorities:
National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC)
24/7 Hotline: 888-373-7888 (toll-free)
Text line: BeFree (233733) (send “Help” or “Info”)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Online tip form: https://tips.fbi.gov
Find an office: www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field
Internet Crime Complaint Center: www.ic3.gov
Get more details on child trafficking, how to identify it and how to promptly report it in the QuickSeries® pocket guide: Child Trafficking & What you Can Do About It. Courtesy of Kid Central Tn for sharing the steps initially.