Child Trafficking as Exploitation

Most definitions of exploitation describe a social relationship out of balance. A exploits B when A takes unfair advantage of B. Ethical definitions emphasize the way A treats B as an object and uses her or him instrumentally to cover their own needs. Economic definitions refer to A profiting from the labor of B to an unreasonable price. Is exploitation slavery? Reiman claims that exploitative societies

represent forms of slavery when they are structured in ways that force given groups of people to offer their labor to others at unfair rates. Taking the point of departure in a Bales- inspired, modern slavery definition, as I do here, slavery and exploitation should however be clearly distinguished from one another. While all slavery is exploitation, the opposite is not the case. In an exploitative relationship that is not slavery, B may be paid, although underpaid. B might also be able to leave to look for other, although not necessarily much more attractive opportunities.

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Moore presupposes “a substantial degree of coercion” to take place in an exploitative relationship. There are two frameworks for defining exploitation, offering two different approaches to the coercion factor. First, in exploitative social relationships between individuals, coercion is exercised in the form of power where A forcefully imposes his will on B. The second approach (as exemplified by Reiman) focuses on how some societies are structured in ways that produce systems of individual exploitative relationships.