Trafficking and human exploitation in international law, with special reference to women and children in Africa

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IT MAY seem counterintuitive but the issue of the trafficking of women and children in Africa has yet to be addressed in legal terms, at the continental level. This is made easier by the understanding that trafficking is not synonymous with the slave trade and, in fact, gains legal traction in the twenty-first century with the introduction of the 2000 United Nations Palermo Protocol. The genealogy of trafficking is not bound up in the African slave trade at all, but with the "white slave trade," a regime-not surprisingly-having little to do with Africa. Where there exists any discussion on the issue, it is prompted by regard to trafficking not in Africa, but out of Africa. That impetus is manifest in the Ouagadougou Action Plan, which emerges from the bulwarks of Fortress Europe so as to counter the fears of African migration toward the European Union. This chapter examines the legal genealogies of trafficking and human exploitation and demonstrates their convergence as "exploitation" comes to form part of the definition of the term "trafficking in persons" as defined by the Palermo Protocol: 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.1 In turning its attention to the issue of trafficking in Africa, this chapter demonstrates that Europe has led that process. As a result, the continent-wide approach in Africa shows little sign of moving toward establishing a legal basis for suppressing the trafficking. Indeed, the African approach is hardly worth speaking about in print, as money and resources currently allocated to the task demonstrate that African states prefer to simply speak about trafficking in human beings rather than seek to prevent it.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTrafficking in Slavery's Wake
Subtitle of host publicationLaw and the Experience of Women and Children
EditorsBenjamin N. Lawrance, Richard L. Roberts
Place of PublicationAthens OH Australia
PublisherOhio State University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780821444184
ISBN (Print)9780821420027
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

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