|Action against human trafficking|
The US Senate designated 11 January as the National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in 2007 and the day has been marked each year since as a time to develop both awareness but especially action. There is a world-wide need to dismantle trafficking networks and to help survivors to rebuild their lives. Citizens of the World welcome the US Senate call to action but no country can meet this challenge alone, and thus on a world-wide scale, we need to address the underlying conditions of poverty, discrimination and ignorance that push so many into bondage.
One of the most destructive forms of oppression is that of trafficking in persons. Such trafficking is done in total disregard for the dignity of the person and his welfare. The recent increase in the scope, intensity and sophistication of crime around the world threatens the safety of citizens everywhere and hinders countries in their social, economic and cultural development.
The dark side of globalization allows trans-frontier criminal syndicates to broaden their range of operations from drugs and arms sales to trafficking in human beings. Some gangs are involved in all three. In other cases, agreements are made to specialize and not expand into the specialty of other criminal groups.
Basically, there are two main sources of international trafficking in persons. The first are refugees from armed conflicts as we see today with refugees from the armed conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The second category are people leaving their country for economic reasons – sometimes called “economic refugees”. Migration for better jobs and a higher standard of living has a long history. Poverty, ethnic and racial tensions and gender-based discrimination are all factors in people seeking to change countries. The smuggling of migrants and the trafficking of human beings for prostitution and slave-like labor have become two of the fastest growing worldwide problems of recent years. From Nepal villages to Eastern European cities women and girls are attracted by the prospect of a well-paid job as a domestic servant, waitress or factory worker. Traffickers recruit victims through fake advertisements , mail-order bride lists, casual acquaintances, and even family.
The lack of economic, political and social structures providing women with equal job opportunities also contributed to the feminization of poverty, which in turn has given rise to the feminization of migration, as women leave their homes to look for viable economic solutions. However, trafficking in human beings is not confined to the “sex industry”. Children are also trafficked to work in sweatshops, and men to work in the “three D jobs “ - dirty, difficult, and dangerous.
The pattern of trafficking in persons will continue to grow unless strong counter measures are taken, especially by non-governmental organizations who help build the political will for action. We must not underestimate the difficulties and dangers which exist in the struggle against trafficking. It is a task which requires cooperation and action to change attitudes, overcome apathy and root out deep-set corruption.
There is also an important role for psychological healing. Very often women and children who have been trafficked into the sex trades have a disrupted or violent family life. They often have a poor image of their self-worth. Thus it is important to create opportunities for individual and group healing.
11 January can serve as a day of re-dedication to work for the respect of human dignity, to understand the causes of migration and to counter the trafficking in persons.
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.