Organ Trafficking: The Least Discussed Form of Human Trafficking

Organ trafficking isn't a topic that receives much attention. When people think of human trafficking, their mind usually goes to sex trafficking or forced labor. Organ trafficking is a serious crime, and one that appears to go unheard of. In the human trafficking conversations, it's a topic that doesn't receive as much focus. Despite organ trafficking being extremely rare, it is still worth discussing.

What is organ trafficking? After much research, the definition of organ trafficking is basically a broad concept that includes the illegal activity of removing organs from a living or deceased individual for a profit. A 2018 report from the International Labor Organization showed that "40 million people are victims of human trafficking." Around 10% were victims of organ trafficking (the equivalent of 12,000 organs). 

This does bring up the term "organ harvesting," which is related to organ trafficking. Organ harvesting (better known as organ procurement) is the surgical removal of organs. Organ harvesting usually leads to organ trafficking.

What are some of the root causes for organ trafficking? Poverty is the most common. People desperate for money will do anything, which makes them vulnerable. Those who are in vulnerable situations are most at risk of being victimized by organ traffickers. Money is a powerful object that makes people willing to do anything, sometimes without proper knowledge of what they are willing to do (which is common in the organ trafficking world).

Migrants, for example, are in danger of being used. In one story, a 17 year old Syrian boy sold his right kidney for $8,000 (USD), because he could not pay the debt he owed and provide for his mother and sisters. His father and brothers were killed. 

Another common reason would be high demand, as mentioned earlier. The black market demand for organs is very high. Just like any form of human trafficking, the organ trafficking industry wouldn't thrive if there wasn't a demand. In regards to the selling of organs, there is high demand. The World Health Organization stated that around 10,000 kidneys are illegally transported into various countries. And just like human trafficking, not all the victims are willing. They are coerced or forced into doing what their trafficker wants.

Tourism can lead to organ trafficking. Those who visit third world countries can be victimized by these types of traffickers, due to the lack of knowledge of this topic or the region

The horrors of organ trafficking is a global issue. In an article from NBC News, China has a booming organ trafficking business, raking in up to $1 billion dollars per year. There are numerous prisoners in the country who are killed to have their organs forcefully taken out. Some of these happen while the prisoner is still breathing. In the U.S. last year, 28 Senators sent a letter to the DOJ to investigate the abortion giant, Planned Parenthood, for selling aborted fetal body parts. 

The Senators stated the following: "As we have seen from invoices from certain Planned Parenthood affiliates, biomedical companies paid thousands of dollars in exchange for fetal organs from abortions... Planned Parenthood and any biomedical companies involved must be held accountable for their lucrative and illegal activities involving the trafficking and sale of fetal tissue." It doesn't appear as if the investigation went anywhere since Planned Parenthood hasn't been shut down.

Only seven countries have outlawed or created laws against this crime. The U.S. has one law against organ trafficking, but not much else has been done to prevent organ trafficking. There needs to be more discussion about the horrors of organ trafficking, as well as legislation to prevent this from continuing. I hope more people start up a discussion regarding organ trafficking and organ harvesting, because the two are interlinked and both need to be stopped. Organ trafficking isn't a myth. It's very much real, and is an evil practice. 

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