Modern-Day Slavery: Human Trafficking in Uganda

3 Jun

Blog post by Melissa M., Team Uganda 2011

Human trafficking is our modern-day slavery and needs to be addressed. The United Nations defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use 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.”  This means the victims are trafficked through force, fraud and/or coerced by promises such as better jobs, marriage to a person of higher economic status, money given to their family or reuniting them with loved ones. Worldwide, children and adults are being brutally victimized by psychological abuse, physical abuse, rape, starvation and torture. Many of the victims are isolated and are unable to make connections with local services and law enforcement that could help them.

There are many different forms of human trafficking.  These forms include prostitution, child soldiers, sweatshop workers and domestic servants hired by individual families. Based on 2009 data, human trafficking is the third largest global criminal industry which generates between $7,000,000,000 to $10,000,000,000 dollars annually. This is more than the profits of Starbucks, Nike, and Google combined.

Due to the hidden nature and complexity of these trafficking activities, the statistics gathered are not representative of the magnitude of this problem. The most recent studies have found that approximately 600,000 to 800,000 people worldwide are trafficked across national borders. Seventy to eight percent of these victims are female, fifty percent of them being children.

Trafficking is not only happening in third-world countries, it is also happening in our own back yard.  Research shows that within the United States alone, an estimated 14,500 to 20,000 women and children enter the country annually with the intent of being trafficked. Human trafficking cases have been opened in almost every state and have been identified in ninety cities.

Uganda is considered a destination country for men, women and children who have become the victims of human trafficking.  Women and children in Pakistan, India and China are often sent to Uganda for sexual exploitation. Between the years 2007 & 2009, approximately 800 children were abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and forced to serve as soldiers and sex slaves.  Not only are these children being beaten and raped, they are also losing body parts to local witch doctors who use them to heal other illnesses.

The government of Uganda has not yet fully complied with standards established to help eliminate trafficking, so there has been little progress with prosecuting these human trafficking offenses. There is plenty of work yet to be done in Uganda in order to fully eliminate this modern-day form of human slavery.

Melissa will be serving on the Uganda Journey 117 Team leaving in June 2011. 


One Response to “Modern-Day Slavery: Human Trafficking in Uganda”

  1. Keith Moore June 9, 2011 at 8:33 pm #


    When you get to Uganda you will be blown away by the open recruiting of trafficking victims. The signs and bill boards are plastered on walls, fences, light poles. When you know what the bill boards are actually for, it makes you want to go and tear them all down.

    I’ll be interested to hear what you thought about it when you get back.


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