30 July 2020 is designated “World Day against Trafficking in Persons” by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
In 2013, the United Nations invited Member States, international organisations, civil society and all concerned persons and organisations to observe this day to raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.
The theme for 2020 World Day against Trafficking in Persons is to highlight the work of first Responders to human trafficking, who the UN describes as:
“the people who work in different sectors - identifying, supporting, counselling and seeking justice for victims of trafficking, and challenging the impunity of the traffickers.”
The work of first Responders is often overlooked and has been made even more difficult because of COVID-19, but their work has become even more vital as the world community goes in and out of lockdown.
Human trafficking is modern day slavery and it is the scourge of modern society. It is shocking that in the 21stcentury, it is as prevalent as it is. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. Trafficking is a grave violation of human rights and every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers in their own countries and abroad.
There are three elements to what constitutes human trafficking:
- The requirement for there to be the transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of person
- There must be the threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim
- And it must be for the purpose of exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs.
The world community came together in 2010 to create a Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons by a resolution adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. At the heart of this global response, is what is known as the three Ps:
- Prevention of Trafficking in Persons
- Protection of and assistance to victims of trafficking in persons
- Prosecution of crimes of trafficking in persons
And, the United Nations 2018 Global report on Trafficking in Persons, the fourth of its kind, based on information collected from 142 countries, encompassing more than 94 per cent of the world’s population, reports:
- Most of the victims detected across the world are females; mainly adult women, but also increasingly girls.
- The vast majority of the detected victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation are females, and 35 per cent of the victims trafficked for forced labour are also females, both women and girls.
- At the same time, more than half of the victims of trafficking for forced labour are men.
- Armed conflicts can increase the vulnerability to trafficking in different ways. Areas with weak rule of law and lack of resources to respond to crime provide traffickers with a fertile terrain to carry out their operations.
- Some armed groups involved in conflict may exploit civilians. Armed groups and other criminals may take the opportunity to traffic victims – including children – for sexual exploitation, sexual slavery, forced marriage, armed combat and various forms of forced labour.
We are stronger when we work together. Nations, international organisations, civil society, first Responders are all part of a global response to end this scourge on modern society. More, however, needs to be done to help first Responders in their work to Prevent, Protect and to Prosecute.
At the grass roots level, we must all be alive to the possibility that in our day to day lives, we may come across persons who have been trafficked and whose voices have been suppressed by their traffickers. Some of the signs to look out for can be found on:
Modern day slavery impacts every one of Sahoja’s five core values and impacts six of the eight causes Sahoja stands for. Together, lets end human trafficking.
In 2018 Nadia Murad was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. She is a Yazidi woman, who was enslaved and raped by ISIL terrorists after they destroyed her village and killed her family. Her plea is simple:
“I want to be the last girl in the world with a story like mine”