Rapid social, political, and economic changes on a global scale. The impact of modern mercantile capitalism and globalisation has had a negative effect upon many poor families and communities, particularly in rural regions (Shelley, 2010; Cunningham, 2015).
Understanding why people may be targeted, trafficked and exploited can be significantly enhanced by examining the situation in the country or region from which they originate. This provides context to the exploitative relationship and can offer insights into the predisposing vulnerabilities that contributed to the target's viability as a target for trafficking and exploitation.
Data and case studies concerning British-born victims that have been exploited through criminal activity is, perhaps surprisingly, more difficult to locate. but the National Crime Agency has recently been collating useful data on county lines.
Vietnamese children and young people, predominantly boys, are frequently found to be working as “gardeners” in cannabis factories. These children have been found and removed from cannabis factories during nationwide police raids. The children were often charged with drug offences, immigration offences, and labelled as running drug houses (Beddoe, 2007). There are also links to human trafficking and debt bondage as a method of coercion and control, by organised groups bringing children into the UK from Vietnam.
Many victims that are trafficked from Vietnam are taken to China and then flown to Russia. From there they are transported (usually by lorry) to Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, France and finally the UK. These are long, complicated journeys; violence and exploitation often begin from the point of departure and recurs throughout the trafficking process.
Emotional and physical abuse as well as debt bondage is common: families living in extreme poverty are vulnerable to money lenders who are often connected to traffickers. Culture and tradition dictate that children have a responsibility to support their families financially through work, and this responsibility is often reinforced by the expectations of parents. This is more pronounced in poorer rural areas creating an environment favourable for recruiting trafficking victims (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in Association With the British Embassy, Hanoi, 2011).
In Vietnam, many people living in economically disadvantaged provinces often lack formal education. While it is compulsory to attend education until the age of 14, 40%-50% of rural children do not continue in education after they reach 14 (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in Association With the British Embassy, Hanoi, 2011).
According to RACE, traffickers tend to recruit exclusively from rural areas of Vietnam and recruit children and adults through offers of a better life abroad. Increasingly, victims of trafficking are targeted and recruited via internet chat rooms (Brotherton & Waters) rendering the exploiters plausible and persuasive in their offers of work and prosperity.
Central and Eastern Europe:
Trafficking for petty crime and begging is particularly well established in Central and Eastern Europe and most commonly affects the Roma communities in countries such as Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Bulgaria. These communities suffer particularly high levels of poverty and unemployment, and have a long history of marginalisation and discrimination.
There are high levels of multi-generational street homelessness among Roma people meaning that they often have no identification, rendering them invisible to state records (European Roma Rights Centre and People In Need, 2011). People living in extreme poverty do not have bank accounts and this is true for the Roma who have little option but to seek loans from money lenders known as Kamatari. These lenders impose harsh and repressive terms to recover the debt, including forcing people to commit crimes such as begging and pick pocketing, forcing parents to traffic their own children for the same purpose, or to hand the child over to traffickers (Brotherton & Waters). Family complicity in trafficking of children for all forms of exploitation has been noted by European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and People in Need (2011), whereby the child was usually recruited for exploitation by a close family member, or friends and associates with close family ties; furthermore, the report found that involvement of the sale of children by parents had also occurred.
In other circumstances, families may send their children overseas for a better life and may not be aware that they are being exploited or forced to commit crime. Some children are accompanied by parents or family members who may force them to beg or steal. In some instances, where family members (e.g. parents) make a child beg or to steal, the child may understand this to be “for the good of the family” making them feel valued or useful (Ballet, et al., 2002).
A number of factors may drive people into the hands of traffickers. Domestic violence and substance abuse are common. Gender-based violence, as a form of sex discrimination and violence against children, has been found to be a significant contributing factor to women being trafficked. Elsewhere, domestic violence and chaotic households have also been associated with child abuse and neglect which can push children towards sexual and criminal exploitation (Knowsley Council, 2015; European Roma Rights Centre and People In Need, 2011). Substance abuse has been found in all age groups within the Roma community even as young as six years old, especially among homeless street children. Drugs have also been identified as being used by traffickers to recruit addicted parents so that some young people or children are passed or sold to traffickers in order to maintain a habit or service a debt (European Roma Rights Centre and People In Need, 2011).
In Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, Roma have, for generations, faced great obstacles to accessing employment due to low levels of education and high levels of discrimination. The lack of employment opportunities and the resulting poverty and social exclusion have been listed in all five countries as the most prevalent vulnerability factors. Lack of education is consistently cited as a problem for Roma and Traveller children both in the UK and in Europe with high dropout rates and disproportionate placement in provisions for children with special educational needs (European Roma Rights Centre and People In Need, 2011; Bingham, 2010).