While the world is celebrating the jubilant week between Christmas and the breaking of a New Year, Tia looks on with eyes soaked in malaise. She barely looks anything above sixteen, but her eyes look like she is forty, fifty, or more. She should be out there amongst a gregarious group of friends, smiling away her teenage years, celebrating the scintillation that being at the cusp of a sweet-sixteen can infuse. She should be out there amongst peers her age, sitting in a class room and imbibing the cornucopia of information that education offers. She should be out there looking ahead at the life before her, at the oyster that the world is for her, and painting her own big canvas with the choicest options from the brilliant palette of colours at her disposal.
But that’s the least of her problems.
Tia is a victim of human trafficking. She was sold to a brothel at the tender age of eight, where she was repeatedly raped and assaulted by “clients”. She tried escaping, but was kidnapped at a vulnerable moment and brought back to her fate again. Since, Tia has remained in the confines of a brothel. Tia is in huge demand because she is young. Sometimes her “clients” are drunk. They beat her, they ask her to do disgusting things. Sometimes, Tia’s “clients” promise her a future that she knows will never be fulfilled. She has scars from burned butts of cigarettes on her forearms. She has cuts that sear an angry read, unrelenting, refusing to heal, all over her abdomen and legs. But Tia has to survive, to keep herself safe and to prevent herself from physical harm. So she flirts, she bats her eyelashes. She acts coy, she pretends to seduce.
|Sourced from www.sawso.org|
Tia, for my article, may not be a real girl. But there are many, MANY girls over the world that fit this profile. For girls like the Tia of my article, Laughter is a forgotten trinket; Childhood is a wispy memory from the past that never went past the stage of a closed bud; Family is a word that is pockmarked with betrayal; Care is a coveted asset; A Normal Life is an elusive, exquisite privilege. As hackneyed, as clichéd, as done-to-death as this may sound, Human Trafficking, particularly amongst women and girls, is an abhorrent practice that still subsists in society today.
Human Trafficking is still a thriving phenomenon because of these “clients” who keep the practice going due to their “needs”. Coupled with the proclivity for the hedonistic ideology is the astounding degree of ignorance that blinds most of society, leading them to believe that girls “want” to be a part of a brothel, and are “voluntarily” a part of brothels. The United Nations estimates that 700,000 to 4 million women and children are trafficked around the world for purposes of forced prostitution, labour and other forms of exploitation every year. Trafficking is estimated to be a $7 billion dollar annual business.
Even as we read and write articles and op-ed stories on Human Trafficking, women are subjected to wanton exploitation for sexual work. Children are found to be the easiest means of labour, be it manual or sexual- they needn’t be paid, and they can be beaten into submissiveness with ease.
And here’s the shocker: Even though a majority of these pimping circles are found to thrive in the Pacific Rim, Africa and underdeveloped countries, the “developed” countries are no saints. The United States of America itself seems to have human trafficking as the third highest source of commercial profit. Shocking? Here’s more. The United Kingdom put off signing a European Union directive on Human Trafficking for over 10 months, becoming one of the last countries to sign it- that too, only because criticism egged the government on to signing the document.
The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, or the Trafficking Protocol, was adopted by the United Nations in Palermo, Italy in 2000. It is the only international legal agreement attached to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime that targets Human Trafficking exclusively. The Trafficking Protocol is one of three Protocols adopted to supplement the Convention. The law is in place, no doubt, denouncing sexual slavery and human trafficking in harsh terms. But the enforcement of the law is an embarrassment. The dirigible implementation of a piece of legislation needs to be steered in favour of the pursuit of altruistic concerns, acceptable and expected results. The current state of frugal- nay, next to nought legal enforcement does no good whatsoever. The practice still runs amok as women and children are still being actively bought off by brothels, slave traders and pimps.
What can we do about the issue?
Taking on the dark underbellies of society that indulge in such trade is hardly a practical solution. All it takes is a simple armchair activism. You know this is wrong. I know this is wrong. Simply spread the message to quarters that need to understand that the practice is wrong. On the “supply side”, ground reality seems that families are forced by the harsh hand of poverty and monetary handicaps to sell their daughters to feed the rest of their families. But that perception needs to be changed. By selling their daughters, these families are perpetrating a crime against humanity. On the “demand side”, a strong message must be sent out to make these “customers” realize their complicity in the commission of a grave crime against humanity- that they are criminals themselves owing to their abetment.
This is not a clarion call from a bra-burning feminist. This is not a piece authored in projection of the issue as an empty “woman’s-lib” perspective. The fact is that Human Trafficking is real. The sex slavery aspect of it is a greater evil for women, who happen to be the victims in the entire rigmarole. It makes no sense to dismiss it with a Ah this sort of a thing is just a feminist’s empty rhetoric or an Oh come on now, stop this feminist crap. Be alive. Open your eyes. And help be the revolution that you want to see.