SOC 120 Introduction to Ethics & Social Responsibility
Human trafficking is a growing issue that has plagued our country for many years. Countries have made many efforts to reduce human trafficking; however, it is still plaguing many countries. It is the gravest infringement of human rights, in light of hardship of a person of their given right to opportunity of will and decision. With the advancement of social media (Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and Twitter), these platforms are used to find and attract victims in a broad demographic. It is a lucrative business that has an estimated net worth of $32 billion, making it the second most profitable criminal enterprise in the world (Perkins, 2015). Human trafficking is a problem requiring legislative, political, social, and policing responses. The ethical theories that will be reviewed are utilitarianism, deontology, and a perspective of egoism. These theories allow us to focus on what we are obligated to do as rational moral agents (Mosser, 2013). These theories also will enable us to determine that human trafficking is unethical because it demoralizes humans, and it affects the freedom of people.
The United States Department of Homeland Security describes human trafficking as the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act (2019). Trafficking could include violence, manipulation, or false promises that are told to lure victims into trafficking. It can affect men, women, and children of all ages. There is no surprise that when we hear of human trafficking, we think of how these acts could be taking place in our neighborhoods and countries. It is a scarce community where it’s being disguised in factories, restaurants, and hotels, just to name a few. Human traffickers are skilled at recognizing vulnerabilities and manipulating people. Contrary to a common misconception, for trafficking to take place, people do not need to be transported across borders. Most sexually exploited people want to escape poverty, improve their lives, and support their families. They represent every social, racial, or ethnic group.
There are several different types of human trafficking: Sex trafficking, forced labor, and debt bondage. The most common of the three is sex trafficking, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2020). The UNODC report shows that 79% of human trafficking involves sexual exploitation, which is predominantly women and girls. These young women and girls are preyed upon by traffickers. They are lured with false promises of love, money, or a better life than what they currently have. Manipulation tactics are used to instill fear in their victims so that the traffickers remain in control. Human trafficking poses many ethical dilemmas; often, the trafficked are drugged to prevent disturbances that would lead to alerting authorities of the situation that would disrupt their plan. Victims are often beaten into submission or manipulated to cause fear. Victims can be subjected to extreme violence and mental abuse.
Traffickers are egoists. They only think about themselves and have no empathy for their victims. Egoism believes that regardless of moral standards, that they should do something to bring them closer to their goals, whether right or wrong, no matter whom they hurt in the process (Mosser, 2013).
Utilitarianism argues that, given a set of choices, the act we should choose is that which produces the best results for the most significant number affected by that choice (Mosser, 2013). It shows us whether an act is the right or wrong thing to do and allows us to view its results or consequences. From this perspective, the only people who will benefit from human trafficking are the people who are leading these traffickers. They are looking for people who have low self-esteem, who are looking for better lives and looking for money and help. They tend to control their victims by force, fraud, or coercion. This crime violates our rights as people. Each day, people are victims of human trafficking. There are an estimated 27 million human trafficking victims worldwide (Perkins, 2015).
Deontology focuses on what we are obligated to do as rational moral agents. It is particularly important to see that the deontologist does not say that actions do not have consequences; instead, the deontologist insists that actions should not be evaluated on the basis of the action’s consequences (Mosser, 2013). Those who are involved with human trafficking are solely engaged for their own personal gain. Whether it is domestic, labor, or sexual, these horrendous acts leave people in complete shock. This type of action goes against any kind of morality or dignity of a person. Victims of this act will lose their freedom. This is an excellent example of deontology because it reviews that we should treat people with dignity and respect. If we allow human trafficking to occur, then we are not following what is right, which makes this morally wrong.
Ethical egoism—argues that our moral evaluations should be made in terms of our desires and goals. Something that promotes what I want is regarded as a right; something that interferes with what I wish to, or prevents me from reaching my goals, is viewed as wrong (Mosser, 2013). In this theory, the offenders or the persons who are leading the human trafficking would think in this regard. The only opinion that matters is theirs, their personal gain is what matters most, and they do not have any respect for who is hurt while human trafficking is occurring. If I am the trafficker, and I am selling people, I feel authoritative, and I am powerful. I am reaping the benefits of giving the buyers what they want while gaining their respect in the process. Their egoism is now satisfied, and it allows them mentally to feel that this situation is valid. No other person is considered in this interest other than the trafficker and his satisfaction. There are no consequences in their eyes.
The exploitation of any race, gender, or ethnicity is not acceptable. Collectively, we as a nation, including law enforcement, government agencies, and communities will need to unite to prevent this widespread issue of human trafficking. We should continue to educate ourselves on the problems of human trafficking and how to avoid them. Throughout this paper, we’ve reviewed that human trafficking is an unethical practice. There are several organizations, such as The Department of Homeland Security, The Center for Human Trafficking Awareness and The Polaris Project. Fighting for stronger federal and state laws will provide support to those who are victims of human trafficking. We should continue to educate ourselves on how to prevent and how to assist those who have been victims of trafficking.
Mosser, K. (2013) Introduction to ethics and social responsibility. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Perkins, A. (2015). The truth about Human Trafficking. Retrieved from https://www.nursingcenter.com/pdfjournal?AID=3218778&an=00152258-201511000-00008&Journal_ID=417221&Issue_ID=32186924
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2020). UNODC report on human trafficking exposes modern form of slavery. Retrieved from https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/global-report-on-trafficking-in-persons.html
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2019). What is Human Trafficking. Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/what-human-trafficking
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