Human trafficking syndicates are growing and becoming more organised helped by technology, Southeast Asian law-enforcement experts heard Thursday as they sought ways to tackle the issue together.
Experts from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations met in Manila to try to work out either a binding convention on human trafficking or a less stringent “regional plan of action” to enable ASEAN to act in unison.
“Trafficking in persons used to be number three (crime). Now, it has overtaken the (illegal) arms trade and it is number two globally,” Philippine justice undersecretary Jose Salazar said as the talks got under way.
UNESCO estimates the illegal trade is worth 300 billion US Dollars per year and while counterfeiting makes over 250 billion US Dollars per year. Every year around 32 billion US Dollars is made out human trafficking and slave trade. Statistics show that over 2.5 million people are victims of human trafficking.
People are bought mainly from developing Eastern Europe, South America, North Africa, and Asia to be used for slavery, forced labor, or sexual exploitation. About 80% of these people are taken to Sex Slavery and 17% of the exploited victims are taken to forced labor. The average price in this trade is a shocking 90 US Dollars. Once one falls into the trafficking net the chances of rescue are of one out of a hundred, according to statistics by www.catholic.org
Most of the victims of human trafficking are usually very vulnerable people, who have suffered social discrimination, abuse, or poverty. These people are lured by organized groups in the trade by promises of work, new opportunities and scholarships, in general promises of a better life.
The use of internet and social networks among teens has highly increased the chances of young people falling prey to these trafficking networks.
One of the strategies used by these individuals is to get close with the victims through social networks or physically. The predator then gains trust by promising to help the victim, providing a way out of the current problems.
The situation can be poverty, low self-esteem, being victim of verbal, sexual abuse or violence. Once the victims are out of their home countries, these people will make the family of the victim believe that everything is fine, they will send pictures and emails giving them a very good impression. If by any chance the victim resists slavery they threaten to harm his or her family.
Though there are more women and children as slaves, men are also trafficked, and occasionally put into sexual slavery.
As an attempt to solve the problem, the UN is calling on governments to prioritize human trafficking cases.
Actress Mira Sorvino, the UN’s goodwill ambassador against human trafficking says, “Transnational organized crime groups are adding humans to their product lists. Satellites reveal the same routes moving them as arms and drugs.”
It is great that some International institutions are trying to find solutions to solve problem. But stopping human trafficking takes a lot more than involving the police (which in third world countries is not adequately trained for such situations) or political institutions.
Stopping human trafficking requires a social intervention; it takes creating awareness in our towns, Schools, and homes. It has to start with us, we need to break the silence, because each and everyday children disappear from their homes and we have no idea about what is happening to them because nobody opens up.