Questioning the Notion of Financial Gain as the Primary Motivation of Human Traffickers


  • Matthew C. Clarke



One common belief in the anti-trafficking field is that the primary motivation of traffickers is financial gain. This short paper describes recent examples of that belief among researchers and practitioners and suggests that it is not warranted by the available evidence. My intention is to stimulate conversation and to call for improved documentation and analysis of perpetrator motivations. I encourage a more nuanced appreciation of those motivations by policymakers and the larger anti-trafficking community.


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Author Biography

Matthew C. Clarke

Matthew C. Clarke works with Turning Teardrops Into Joy as principal researcher for The Freedom Keys Research Project, whose aim is to generate and test innovative ideas for ending human trafficking. Prior to that project, he held roles as senior analyst with an international development agency, Senior Lecturer of Computer Science at the University of Natal, Head of Business Intelligence Product Development with Rocket Software, and Vice President of Information Architecture with CorVu Corporation. His expertise in information technology and data analysis has always been coupled with a commitment to local community building and grassroots peacemaking.




How to Cite

Clarke, M. (2022). Questioning the Notion of Financial Gain as the Primary Motivation of Human Traffickers. Anti-Trafficking Review, (18), 180–184.