57 Int'l Soc. Work 3 (2014)

handle is hein.journals/intsocwk57 and id is 1 raw text is: 



Editorial                                                                           W

                                                                            International Social Work
                                                                               2014, Vol 57(1) 3-6
Editorial                                                                    @The Author(s) 2013
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                                                                     DOI: I0. 1177/00208728I3506357
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                                                                                   OSAGE

The  social work community  has been increasingly called on to work with victims/survivors of
'human  trafficking', be part of tasks forces, and otherwise to address the problem of 'modem day
slavery'. Known to be a global problem, trafficking in persons is still a phenomenon that is rapidly
evolving, as is the knowledge base surrounding it; and response development has been slow and
arduous. For example there is wide disagreement even on the threshold issue of prevalence of the
problem, with Kevin  Bales, co-founder of Free the Slaves, estimating that there are 27 million
slaves worldwide, compared  to the International Labor Organization's estimate of 2.4 million in
2009. Both estimates are in stark contrast to global law enforcement data from the 2012 United
States' Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report which documented 7,705 prosecutions, 4,746 convic-
tions, and 46,570 identified victims. On-going research and dialogue continue to probe for under-
standing of the many aspects of human trafficking.
   What we  do know  is that trafficking in persons is a topic that is extremely relevant to the social
work  community. The  International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) states that human traf-
ficking involves a 'gross abuse of human rights which is becoming increasingly common in the
world today' (http://ifsw.org/resources/publications/human-rights/human-trafficking/). IFSW fur-
ther expresses heightened concern for women and children involved in trafficking. Vulnerability
factors are generally known to include gender, access to education or income generation opportuni-
ties, social status and social capital, as well as cultural response to vulnerable populations. Indeed,
it is difficult to think of a group of people who are at greater risk of oppression, victimization, loss
of safety and security, and acute and ongoing trauma.
   The adoption in 2000 of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons,
especially Women  and Children (Palermo Protocol) by the United Nations General Assembly and
subsequent ratification by member states have provided the most universally accepted definition.
Human  trafficking involves force, fraud, or coercion and can include several forms of exploitation
such as forced labor, commercial sex, organ removal, or extraction of adoption consent for the
benefit of those involved in the chain of activities who perform such acts for monetary or other
benefit. The Palermo Protocol, a prototype international instrument, has generated domestic legis-
lation by at least 125 countries at this point. The individual member states have in turn developed,
or are developing, policies and intended to enhance prosecution and provide for victim assistance.
However,  in many cases victim advocates have expressed concern that victim services are often
prioritized secondary to law enforcement objectives.
   Much  of the current literature is situated in legal, criminal justice, human rights and women's
studies journals, with scant representation by social work scholars or practitioners, although in
reality social workers have long worked with a variety of persons who are now  referred to as
'human  trafficking victims'. These include those caught in forced or indentured labor, women and
men  exposed to violence in the sex industry, children subjected to commercial sexual exploitation,
victims of domestic violence/servile marriages, child soldiers and others involved in forced or
exploitive work. With the general paucity of funding coupled with dramatic increase in interest in
human  trafficking, social workers struggle with the tension between the provision of services tied

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