"Human Trafficking needs attention and action"June 24
Human trafficking is a multimillion dollar transnational business, but the crime seems to be shrouded in secrecy. Tamica Parchment, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent living in Kingston, Jamaica, investigates the reasons behind human trafficking’s lack of exposure in the public and political eye.
After the dramatic rescue of three young women in Cleveland, there was a media and online frenzy discussing their stories and the fact that the women were made into prisoners and sex slaves. Many tweets, blog posts and news reports emphasized the same thing: human trafficking is very real. A great discovery for many, it seemed, who were shocked that this atrocity is still a reality in 2013, but a sad reminder for those of us who are aware that this transnational crime needs more attention and action.
Human trafficking is a very lucrative transnational business . In addition to gun and drug trafficking, it is a tool used by organized crime units and others to earn money by trading victims who often become sex workers,beggars,drug dealers and slaves. These persons are in many cases victims for life or until they are discarded. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the crime, many countries have not created enough laws to properly deal with the circumstances that come with this crime.
For example, Jamaica has a Human Trafficking Act that was created in 2007, but it will be modified this year to deal with offenses related to trafficking and not just trafficking itself. Those crimes would have to be prosecuted separately which slows down the conviction process. This is a common problem in many countries as lobby groups for this issue tend to be disorganized, which means the issue receives little attention. It is unfortunate, but without lobbying and human rights groups pressuring governments this problem will not receive focus in many countries, and the creation of appropriate legislation will be slow.
There are other barriers that decrease the attention human trafficking gets in terms of legislation and overall public focus. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) stated in its 2012 report on human trafficking that many countries, including some of the most developed, find the issue very challenging.This may contribute to the lack of focus on human trafficking on a wider scale. The UNDOC states that lack of knowledge, the reduced ability to fight the crimes legally and poor monitoring and evaluation are huge challenges faced by countries, making the problem harder to solve and monitor. This leads to the issue being swept under the rug by governments (sometimes in embarrassment) due to their inability to deal with the crime.
This does not mean that no effort is being made. Steps are being taken to correct the problem. The European Union and the United States have created policies and countries try to attack the problem using a mix of solutions including sanctions and joint operations with international police forces. For example, Jamaica may need more legislation to fight trafficking properly but in the meantime has established a home for victims, and has recently charged criminals participating in human trafficking. The United States has also supported the cause financially, especially in the Latin American region and in the Caribbean, and has made a rating scheme to guide countries. These steps are helpful. Yearly ‘Trafficking in Persons’ reports have assisted in naming countries that are resistant to participation in strategies to decrease human trafficking.
While this effort is appreciated, it is not enough. The effects of human trafficking on victims are dire. The World Health Organization in a special paper called ‘Human Trafficking’ states “At each stage, women, men and children may encounter psychological, physical and/or sexual abuse; forced or coerced use of drugs or alcohol; social restrictions and emotional manipulation; economic exploitation, inescapable debts; and legal insecurities.” The report claims that even after the victim has been rescued, the negative effects continue as the stigma and trauma remains. These effects on victims are disastrous, especially in poorer countries where there is low capacity in the health care and financial sectors and therefore low support for victims.
It is the duty of our leaders to decrease the prevalence of this crime as it especially targets young women and children, and the effects are passed on from one generation to the next.
Countries must take this issue seriously and give the resources needed to protect our societies. We need to educate ourselves, take precautions and help others who may be victims of human trafficking. Be wary of jobs that seem to good to be true, do not stay in situations where you may feel uncomfortable. Victims should not be blamed; what has happened to them is horrible and their trust has been manipulated, but it also serves your interest to be wary.
As the global economy tightens, transnational crime becomes an even more attractive choice to many and human trafficking is one of the options used to gain wealth. This is a crucial time for action to be taken and for this issue to receive the focus it truly deserves.
Photo: Glendali on Stock.xchng
I’m a television editor/producer and business communications specialist. I have a first degree in media and communications and international relations. I enjoy classic literature, art, studying languages and reading about foreign policy and other political issues.
I have two goals I would like to achieve in my lifetime: to travel to many places around the world and to make an impact through media by encouraging behavioural change.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/