Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Musings on Human Trafficking...

Contributed by: Lylin Aguas
I couldn’t help getting emotional again as I read a touching post from a writer about a girl who was sold to a brothel at age six and locked inside a room to be raped by 15 or more men every night.
His words reminded me what I at times forget – that though the human capacity for evil can be so great, humans have an equally awesome capacity for resilience and recovery.

I’ve read quite a number of articles of how women and children survived abuses wrought by war, poverty and greed for power and money. That they survived at all is amazing. Their survival and show of hope and strength to rise above what they had gone through always makes me appreciate how life has been good to me.80% of human trafficking involves sexual labor and exploitation, and 19% accounts for victims of forced or bonded labor. It does not surprise me that 90% of human trafficking victims are women and girls, or that over 20,000-50,000 women are trafficked into the United States every year, or that 2 million children are forced into prostitution every year, and half of them live in Asia.

To say at this point that trafficking of human beings “is becoming” a major source of income for some organized crime groups would be an understatement. It has always been there but people way back then probably did not have the courage to get organized to be heard and be strong in number to make the world aware at how serious the problem is. Though these anti-trafficking civic groups have grown, so have these organized crime groups become bolder. They have no qualms about enslaving people, or worse, “executing” those who defy or try to escape from them. And it’s sad that in some publicized news about this, people expected to protect the victims get caught in the web of crime , deceit and power.

I found a very interesting article of how organized human trafficking can be from a July 2005 article of International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) (http://www.migrationinformation.org/Feature/display.cfm?ID=318) . It illustrated how victims are systematically trafficked from Nigeria to Italy, where the largest group of victims from the Sub-Saharan Africa at that time came from Nigeria. It clearly showed the collusion of people from several points of contact until the victims reached their destination.

Even in countries like Cambodia and Kosovo where the UN and NATO peacekeeping forces were stationed, prostitution increased by huge numbers. This has caused a lot of flak and criticism on the UN and NATO from women's rights and human rights groups for not doing anything concrete about the situation. (source: Tulika Nair)

Despite all the profiling of these criminals and determining the network by which the trafficking cycle reaches its complicity, what has really been done to eradicate it? The problem undeniably persists.

In Nigeria, the government signed and ratified the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (often referred to as the Palermo Protocol). Though PRIO pointed out that domestic legislation and legal practice in the area of trafficking remained erratic in 2005, the Trafficking in Persons report (TIP report) released in 2011 classified Nigeria under Tier 1 (http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2011/164228.htm), meaning it has complied with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards. This however, does not say that trafficking no longer exists. It is still identified as a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Government fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and has, over the last year, “sustained a modest number of trafficking prosecutions and provision of assistance to several hundred trafficking victims, but did not demonstrate an increase in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts.” (http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2011/164233.htm)

The Philippines, in March 2003 enacted a comprehensive anti-trafficking law called The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 or the Republic Act No. 3208. Several women’s rights groups and advocates against human trafficking were formed to help police and prosecute offenders. However, the problem still prevails.

India’s current law—the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956 (ITPA)—does not penalize sex workers. Instead, the legislation targets those who profit from or exploit prostitutes. Government’s move to make trafficking illegal sparked debates in 2008 as some sectors argued this would drive offenders further into hiding thus increasing health risks.

Both India and the Philippines are categorized as Tier 2 under the 2011 Trafficking in Persons report. This ranking is the second to lowest in which “the government does not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)’s minimum standards, but is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.”

Human trafficking will thrive anywhere for as long as there are people willing to pay for sex or child labor, and poverty drives people to desperation to be able to survive.

It takes a lot of perseverance, courage and hope for victims to rise above the trauma.

It takes compassion and understanding from others, not ridicule and persecution to help these victims regain a normal life again.

It takes our voice..our action to move leaders and governments to address major human rights concerns and make things right…

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