Interview: Combating Trafficking in Persons


The following is an interview with an IOM officer who has been involved in the fight against Trafficking in Persons for nearly 8 years.

What case has struck you the most and why? 

The case about 5 women from South America was very difficult. They were deceived in their home countries with promises of working in Honduras, but they were victims of human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation. Along with the National Migration Institute, IOM provided them with assistance and protection through food, clothing and healthcare. I even had the chance to go with one of the young girls to her medical examination together with the Consul-General of her country. I witnessed the feelings of worry and tension she had because she was afraid about possible harm to her family. This resulted in fainting spells and weakness. 

What do you like most about working on this issue?

I like to help people. “Wearing the IOM hat” allows me to help to get closer to people and provide assistance with the counseling and guidance they need. It really fills my heart with joy.

Which are the main regional challenges on this manner?

One of these challenges is to help girls and boys, youth and adults learn about Trafficking in Persons and how to prevent it; institutions providing this kind of assistance and guidance, as well, must learn about this issue and empower themselves. During these years I have seen there is a lack of knowledge about this matter. I still hear people say “white slave trade” and if this kind of ignorance exists, people won’t be able to assist victims of Trafficking in Persons. It is necessary to strengthen existing coalitions at the regional level, share the good practices and sign agreements that will benefit identified victims of this crime.

What is your own personal commitment to this issue?

My commitment is to share my knowledge about Trafficking in Persons with people, whether they’re family members, acquaintances, or institutions, about its risks, its purposes and its objective.

Since you started working against Trafficking in Persons, what is the most significant thing that has changed your life?

To be aware of this important issue. If it was not the case, I don’t think I could provide assistance with dignity to people or help them as much as I can.

Could you give us some final remarks on the International Day against Trafficking in Persons:

I think we must be spokespeople for the oppressed. There is still hard work to be done against Trafficking in Persons in all countries because the number of victims/survivors is still greater than the number of already identified or assisted persons.


About the author:

Dayan Corrales-Morales works for the Migrant Assistance Division where she provides technical support on issues related to return migration and Trafficking in Persons. She has degrees in sociology, philosophy and project management, and she has extensive experience on gender and interculturality issues. In addition, she has carried out research with public universities in Costa Rica. Twitter: @dayancm1


Migrant smuggling, trafficking in persons, and white slave trafficking, what's the difference?

Migrant smuggling, trafficking in persons, and white slave trafficking, what's the difference?
Categoria: Migrant Protection and Assistance
Autor: Guest Contributor

Migrant smuggling, trafficking in persons and even white slave trafficking: we might hear these expressions being used as synonyms, when in reality they have very different meanings. Let's start by eliminating one, the term "white slave trafficking".

The term "white slave trafficking" was used at different times in history, but today it is completely outdated, as it only refers to the sexual exploitation of "white-skinned women". The problem with using this expression is that it can imply that only women with certain characteristics can be victims of trafficking (a racist concept), and that the only end of trafficking is sexual exploitation, when the reality is much more complex. This brings us to the second and correct concept, "trafficking in persons".

"Trafficking in persons" refers to all those forms of exploitation for the benefit of a third party, such as debt bondage, child labor, forced labor, forced marriage, forced begging and the removal of organs. In international law, the term is left somewhat open depending on the context, since new forms appear periodically in which one person or group of people forces another to take actions against their will to achieve some benefit. It is a form of modern slavery and can occur within a country or internationally.

According to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, there are three elements that must be met to characterize a crime as trafficking in persons:

  • The action: That is, the crime carried out by organized networks, where it is evident that actions were taken with the intention of facilitating the exploitation of another person, such as capturing, sending or receiving them.
  • The means: The means is how the criminals manage to carry out the trafficking, for example, through deceit and lies, force, violence, abuse of the other person's vulnerability, etc.
  • Exploitation: In itself, the abuse of another person for the benefit of a third party.

Each of these three elements is made up of many possible actions, but if an action corresponding to each element is carried out, we are dealing with a case of trafficking in persons.

Finally, there is the term "migrant smuggling," which refers to supporting the illegal transfer of a person across border, as "coyotes" do, for exmple. The big difference between "smuggling" and "trafficking" is that traffic violates the laws of the State that is illegally entered, while trafficking violates the human rights of a person. The crime of migrant smuggling is characterized by:

  • The facilitation of illegal entry of a person to another country.
  • The creation or supply of a false identity document or passport.
  • The authorization, by illegal means, of the permanent stay of a non-national or non-resident.

It is clear that both actions, smuggling and trafficking, are often related, since smuggling places people in situations of vulnerability that can trigger a trafficking process. The fact that both crimes are included in the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (also known as the Palermo Convention or Protocol) can also lead to confusion and leads to the belief that they are the same, but they are not.

To learn more about the dangers and characteristics of the crime of human trafficking, we recommend visiting the IOMX campaign.