Human Trafficking: It affects all of us

According to the United Nations, human trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion.” Anyone can be a victim of this inhumane act. Over 2.5 million persons around the world are being trafficked right now for exploitative purposes. Some people are deceived into thinking that they will earn a living in order to take care of their family. But little do they know, that they will be forced to become a slave and may never return to their homeland.

Every country experiences some form of human trafficking, for example, Thailand. In this country, the socially and economically disadvantaged persons would have been interested in bettering their lives. Therefore, they would have been easily deceived into taking any job offered to them. Many of them were “recruited” into the fishing industry where they were held captive for their intense labour for over ten years without food. When they couldn’t work any longer, the traffickers would have killed them and thrown them overboard. For the persons who survived, they were not paid although they were promised a salary.

As seen in the example above, persons were trafficked for labour. However, persons can also be exploited for the removal of organs and even to traffic illegal drugs. Therefore, it is no surprise that the human trafficking industry is estimated to be worth 32 million US dollars.

Trafficking can occur through trickery or pure deception. It can also occur when persons reply to the classified advertisements on the newspaper and online. Some persons are also trafficked through false promises. The traffickers can then be able to control their victims by instilling fear in them by threatening their family, beating others in front of them, torturing them and making them sign contracts which were exploitative to them.

Human trafficking is a violation of human rights. It includes the deprivation of the right to live, the right to security, dignity and justice. It associates itself with the denial of access to health services, the right to self-determination and the right to return to their own community.

There are three steps in which human trafficking can occur. Firstly, traffickers making false promises recruit persons. Secondly, the recruits are transported. Persons travel by land, air or sea and are often accompanied and their documents are destroyed. Finally, they are exploited. Any persons who are found committing these acts can be charged. In Trinidad and Tobago, the penalty for child trafficking is “not less than $1 million and imprisonment for not less than 20 years.” However, to be charged for child trafficking, there must only be two elements for a case to be made – activity and purpose.

Persons are urged to be mindful about who you associate yourself with and be especially careful on social media. If you know anyone who has been a victim of human trafficking you can contact the counter trafficking unit (CTU) hotline at 800-4CTU. For more information about human trafficking, you can also visit IOM Port Of Spain on Facebook.

Naveela Sookoo


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