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par Graham PEEBLES
The act of buying and selling sits at the very heart of the global economy, a commercially motivated system that P. Sainath rightly describes as “market fundamentalism” in which competition and conservative uniformity are central elements. Creative, independent thinking and originality are anathema to this relentless, homogenous machine, which breeds conformity, crushes individuality and “Borg-like”, assimilates all into “the collective”. The aim of all traders is to buy cheap and sell for the highest price possible ; keep costs low, including workers’ wages, and maximize profits for stockholders, directors and senior management. This methodology is applied irrespective of the commodity : cars, mobile phones, tomatoes, lipstick, fridges, land or human beings.
Trading in human beings –historically known as slavery– is now called trafficking. It is a term which the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says “can be misleading : it places emphasis on the transaction aspects of a crime that is more accurately described as enslavement”. The worldwide spread of market fundamentalism (or globalization), Victor Malerek says in The Natashas : Inside the Global Sex Trade, “has created people who are vulnerable and easily enslaved”, giving rise, he states, to there being “more human slaves in the world today than ever before in history”. And apparently they are cheaper than they have ever been.
Modern slavery or trafficking of persons is the second most profitable, organized and destructive global criminal activity after drugs, and within the next five years is expected to ascend to the number one spot. It is a huge, highly profitable worldwide business that is destroying the lives of millions of vulnerable people. Men and women who have the misfortune to be born into poverty, are poorly educated, desperate and, therefore easily manipulated by “recruitment agents”, who paint a false picture of decent, well paid, legitimate work in one or other of the major cities of the world. Trafficking is the exploitation of people, day after day, for years on end. Men –often supported by women ex-victims– drive human trafficking, specifically trafficking for sex, which is a major cause of the spread of HIV/Aids, fuelled by arrogant men who refuse to wear condoms.
Millions of victims, innocent and vulnerable, are trafficked into a life of extreme exploitation, violent abuse and slavery. At the heart of this 21st century epidemic are women, mainly young : most are under 24, some are as young as 6, always poor, desperate and frightened. They make up 80 % of an unknown total number of people trafficked every year. Although the US State Department say it is around one million, the figure could just as easily be double that. What is known is that many women are forced into prostitution of some kind or another and sex slavery –constituent parts of the burgeoning global commercial sex industry (CSI). The language of market fundamentalism facilitating a subtle acceptance of the criminal and inhumane ; for what is commercial is good and industry must be encouraged at any cost ; it feeds the economy, which must be constantly stoked in order to fuel economic growth, which as we know is the source of lasting happiness. So goes the dishonest, corporate political propaganda, rooted as it is in self-interest and thoroughly intoxicated by profit.