On SAGE Insight; The perfect storm: The impact of disaster severity on internal human trafficking

From International Area Studies Review

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is iasb_21_4.cover_.png

This paper argues natural disasters have a positive association with the likelihood of internal or domestic trafficking. Trafficking is a function of individual vulnerability and subsequent criminal agency. Economic scarcity and lack of government protection are conditions of vulnerability that are exploited by criminal agents and networks in recruiting and transporting victims. . The advent of natural disasters exacerbates these conditions and provides an opportunity for criminals.

In 2015, a series of earthquakes in central Nepal left about 9000 people dead and millions injured or homeless. Following the earthquake, international agencies like the United Nations Children’s Fund and World Vision reported a dramatic rise in the number of rescued children from traffickers at border checkpoints. In one town, 70 children were rescued from traffickers in the 5-month post-earthquake period, compared to 30 children the previous year.

The authors study the impact of natural disasters’ impact on trafficking in 158 countries from 2001 to 2011. The unit of analysis is country-year. The study estimated the effects of disaster on internal trafficking based on forced prostitution, forced labor, forced child prostitution and forced child labor. Prostitution-based exploitation appears more likely in the aftermath of disasters. Realistically, this points toward an acute vulnerability faced by women and children. The positive association between labor-based trafficking and disaster severity is not as dramatic, however. We attribute this effect to a relative paucity of trafficking networks and necessary markets in comparison to transnational trafficking. From a theoretical standpoint, we infer that disaster effects contribute directly to the vulnerability of individuals and therefore also to the government response. This “perfect storm” relationship, however, needs further exploration.

Internal trafficking, as we have shown, is a legitimate concern, most notably in the case of countries with low institutional capacity and welfare programs. The impact of a hurricane in Puerto Rico is going to be far severe and long-lasting compared to a similar disaster in the continental USA. We need more precise measurements of institutional capacity and state-based welfare programs. Although we have anchored our focus on internal trafficking, it is linked to transnational trafficking dynamics. In the future, empirical models estimating the linkage within and between countries should yield substantive inferences. Our work also points to a further inquiry on enforcement of trafficking laws. There is little assessment on what works in the global fight against trafficking. What leads to effective enforcement of trafficking laws? A nuanced understanding of enforcement is not only relevant, but extremely significant.

Armed with this knowledge, countries can adjust disaster preparedness plans to account for this specific trafficking threat. Based on our results, in addition to rescue and relief work, governments would be wise to pay attention to domestic trafficking, providing necessary protection to vulnerable survivors, especially women and children.

 Abstract

In this paper, we argue natural disasters have a positive association with the likelihood of internal or domestic trafficking. Trafficking is a function of individual vulnerability and subsequent criminal agency. Economic scarcity and lack of government protection are conditions of vulnerability that are exploited by criminal agents and networks in recruiting and transporting victims. The advent of natural disasters exacerbates these conditions and provides an opportunity for criminals. We argue that internal trafficking is more likely in the wake of disasters as routes to transnational trafficking may be inaccessible. Employing generalized estimation equations on a unique cross-section, time-series dataset of 158 countries, between 2001 and 2011, we find a consistent positive link between natural disasters and the likelihood of internal trafficking. The internal trafficking angle is under-studied, and our findings point at the need for further exploration of the topic.

Read this article in full here 

Article details

The perfect storm: The impact of disaster severity on internal human traffickidng
Anuj Gurung, Amanda D Clark
First Published August 14, 2018 Research Article
DOI: 10.1177/22338659187933867
International Area Studies Review

 

     
This entry was posted in Area and Ethnic Studies, SAGE Insight and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply