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Female traffickers and the criminal justice response.

#humantrafficking #femeltraffickers #humantraffickingawarness #modernslavery #endhumantrafficking #justice

I’d like to talk about the relationship between crime and migration, particularly how female traffickers mostly migrants, get into criminal activities and how they are seen and treated by criminal justice. I’d like to point out that a more responsive approach from criminal justice should be applied towards female traffickers. I think that previous victimisation, sexual exploitation, the power relation between men co-defendants and female traffickers, along with lower-level roles in trafficking and gender, as well as global inequalities should be taken into consideration. Due to recent policies, previously victimised female traffickers are treated in the same way as not victimised offenders. This happens due to the lack of understanding of female traffickers' pathways into criminal activities. The dichotomy of being a victim and offender at the same time is omitted by criminal justice which leads to double victimisation. The truth is that female traffickers are forced to conduct various offences that involve sexual exploitation, drug trafficking, property, intellectual offences and more. It is also important to notice the circumstances such as the global economy and gender inequality play a significant role in the process of becoming a trafficker. Evidence points out that victims and victims/offenders come mostly from less privileged countries, moreover due to their unprivileged background, migrants are often criminalised by states of power in more advanced countries. Therefore, gender and social inequalities role should be acknowledged by lawmakers and those delivering justice. The circumstances such as double victimisation, migration, and globalisation should be taken into consideration during delivering justice. Thus, justice bodies should adequately assess the danger and risk of reoffending of the alleged offenders.

How do women become human traffickers? The question is how women who have been considered innocent, naïve, and powerless become human traffickers. There are many women imprisoned for human trafficking and they are mostly from poor parts of Europe (Board, 2015). There is a question about why and how they started to participate in human trafficking and how to approach them. The problem is that there is a lack of sensitivity towards female traffickers. The factor that their criminal activities are a result of previous victimisation, which involves sexual exploitation and abuse has been ignored by justice. Moreover, the role of power relations between female victims and male co-defendants, and economic and global inequality take a part in the whole process, and this is also ignored. I think that these factors should be taken into consideration while implementing adequate policies that protect susceptible individuals from exploitation, and double victimisation as it may be a misconduct of justice (Broad,2015).

Still, there have been some improvements such as The Modern Slavery ACT 2015 which brings up all previous legislations regarded human trafficking under one act (Broad, 2015, p. 1058). In Europe, the punishment for trafficking human beings (THB) is quite severe and this is right if applied to those who engage in the crime willingly without coercion. The sentence varies from 10-15 years e.g., in Germany, it is 10 years, in the UK-14 years, and in Spain 15 years (Broad, 2015, p. 1058). This is good and shows consistency in seeing the seriousness of these crimes. Still, there is no guide on how to deal with victims/offenders. The law creates a vivid division between who is a victim and who is an offender. The gender framework describes females as innocent and males as aggressive criminals, however, there are numerous women convicted for human trafficking and this creates a problem with understanding the phenomena of females as THB. Especially, since they can be exceptionally vile and violent even more malicious than men (Broad, 2015) when involved in these types of criminal activities. Thus this demands a right professional response towards women perpetrators from criminal justice. Broad, 2015 interviewed 71 offenders who were convicted of THB and found that THB significantly relates to migration and sexual exploitation. Factually, in the years 1998 - 2002, a quarter of all convicted for THB were women (Broad, 2015, p. 1060). They mostly get involved in THB to regain their freedom and avoid violence and abuse. Most importantly, women traffickers do not act alone, and they are under the pressure of their male counterparts. Men use women as traffickers because they can easily get the trust of other women and children. In 2006, Europol pointed at male-female couples as recruiters in Serbia and Montenegro. Still, 57% convicted of THB were women. This occurs because women play lower rank roles such as supporters, partners in crime and madams. Thus, they approach victims directly to lure them and at the same time they are more exposed to being identified. Still, the circumstances of the process of becoming a human trafficker should be noticed by policymakers. The law should address the problem with an adequate solution. Traffickers are villainous, however, there is evidence of victimisation, inequality, and domination during the process of becoming evil perpetrators and this mostly applies to women. Thus, criminal justice partitioners should be aware of the trafficker/victim dichotomy. The isolated focus on law violation should not ignore the role of previous victimisation that involve the pressure to cooperate along with being in intimate relationships with men traffickers (Broad, 2015).

The insight of police officers Moreover, police officers report that sexually exploited victims participating in THB do it against their will and that they are too afraid to refuse cooperation. If they engage in an intimate relationship with a perpetrator, they do not have to have sex with clients anymore and this significantly impacts their decisions, to become partners in crime. This shows the role of power relation between a male co-defendant and the subordinated role of women (Broad,2015). Coercion and active involvement in the crime are difficult to manage by law and prosecutors. However, previous sexual exploitation followed by criminal activities may impact subsequent law approaches and treatment of victims/offenders. Still, there is an issue about the level of exercising of free will, and this is like those who cooperated with SS at concentration camps, they did it to survive. The same schema is present in female THB. This raises a question about their culpability (Broad, 2015). The levels of previous exploitation and participation in THB should be carefully assessed and those who crossed the line and participated out of free will should be punished. For example, there was a woman who was travelling to Lithuania to recruit and bring people back. She had the opportunity to stop the procedure, but she did not do it. Thus, she crossed the line, and this level of active participation crosses the possibility to justify criminal activities based on previous victimisation. Crossing the line by women perpetrators shows their deviancy and abnormality that must be punished.

Couples Traffickers

Furthermore, Broad’s (2015) analysis focused on convicted couples who were in intimate relationships. Broad found that there were different attributions of the quilt in men and women. Also, men and women presented different explanations about their responsibility in trafficking. Men tended to refuse any responsibility even though they gain financially. Female co-offenders who participated in the crime such as transporting and taking care of places where victims were staying etc, stated that they were following the instructions given them by abusive men as any insubordination led to punishment. The problem is that the co-dependency and complicity with abusive partners prevent the full disclosure of evidence against male offenders. This shows the power dynamics and gender inequality in this type of relationship, and this should be taken into consideration during applying justice against victims/offenders. Women who participate in THB act more peripherally and are convicted for arranging the crimes (Broad, 2015), still, female traffickers ignore the previous experience of sexual exploitation, and this is hard to judge morally. I will leave you with this question in mind, how would you judge a female trafficker who was victimised?

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