Human Trafficking in Pakistan
At only 15 years of age, a Pakistani girl named Zunaira Muhammad was forced into slavery and this was the price she paid for her dreams of becoming a software engineer and having an education. This happened when a kindly neighbor promised to pay for Zunaira’s education if she would come live with her and do some household chores. Unwittingly, Zunaira’s mother agreed. Zunaira went to live with her neighbor, Ayesha Ashfaq. Instead of providing a little girl with an education, Ashfaq lured Zunaira to Dubai, forced her to work in a beauty parlor, sold her into sex slavery, and tortured her when she resisted. After she managed to escape she said that her whole life is destroyed as she cannot pursue studies due to the stigma attached to her.

Zunaira is only one story among millions of young people, especially young girls, who are kidnapped, trafficked and sold into slavery around the world. There are about 46 million people living in slavery today, and over 3 million of them are enslaved in Pakistan, making it rank eight in the Global Slavery Index. In the text below, the top five facts to know about human trafficking in Pakistan are presented.

Five Facts About Human Trafficking in Pakistan

  1. In 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, Pakistan was upgraded in Tier 2 by the U.S. Department of State. This means that the government of Pakistan does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but is still making significant efforts to do so. For example, the government increased the number of victims it identified and intensified its investigations into sex trafficking and prosecutions of human trafficking workers. At the same time, the government efforts are inadequate compared to the scale of the problem. The biggest issue is corrupt officials. However, the government does not hold officials accountable or investigate into allegations of trafficking by officials. These problems, along with the extent of human trafficking in Pakistan, keep Pakistan at Tier 2.
  2. Pakistan’s largest human trafficking problem is bonded labor. During bonded labor, a worker assumes an initial debt, but as they work, the debt gets bigger and bigger so they can never pay it off. In this way, it entraps other family members, sometimes lasting for generations. Other human trafficking problems in Pakistan include prostitution slavery, forced marriages, child soldiers, manual labor and forced begging. Forced begging is a situation in which traffickers make children beg on the streets to earn money, sometimes even maiming them to gain sympathy money. Trafficking rings have a structured system in place for each of these crimes, including selling victims in a physical market.
  3. In 2012, 823 victims of human trafficking in Pakistan sought help in shelters. Three-quarters of these victims were female and 60 of them were minors. According to Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency, 30 to 35 traffickers operate in Punjab, Pakistan’s largest province. In 2012, 40 officials were under investigation, one was dismissed, and 33 were punished for complicity in human trafficking. Currently, the estimated number of Pakistani people living in slavery is 3,186,000. This means that almost 17 out of every 1,000 people in Pakistan live in slavery, while 74 people out of every 100 are vulnerable to slavery.
  4. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) joined the European Union (EU) to launch The Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants Act (GLO.ACT) in 2017. Pakistan joined this program in July 2017. This project will include six responses: strategy and policy development, legislative assistance, capacity building, regional and trans-regional cooperation, protection and assistance to victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants and assistance and support to children among victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants. The GLO.ACT also includes a public awareness campaign. To raise awareness, whether as a warning or as a call to action, UNODC distributed 300,000 flyers and 80,000 posters throughout the four districts of Punjab and Balochistan, where most trafficking takes place.
  5. The U.S. Department of State also recommended actions for Pakistan, led by the plea to pass an anti-trafficking law that criminalizes all forms of human trafficking. If Pakistan takes these actions, such as implementing the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for victim identification and referral to rehabilitation services, they can start to move to Tier 1, which means that a country does meet minimum standards for human trafficking.

Though many trafficking victims live without hope, there can be light at the end of the tunnel. With help from organizations and governments such as UNODC and the U.S. Department of State, human trafficking in Pakistan will continue to decrease. As for a young girl from the beginning of the article, she, despite her fear of traffickers, still plans to defy the odds and apply for college, and her father promised to help her purchase books in the market on his meager salary. Her story is one of redemption, and hope for the future of Pakistan.

– Natalie Dell
Photo: Flickr

solutions to human trafficking
The fight against human trafficking can be evaluated in three categories: what is being done, how it is being done and why it is being done. Human trafficking consists of the transferring, harboring and receipt of a person or persons. It is often done in violent or deceptive ways, using threat, coercion, payments and a clear abuse of power. Finally, the main motive behind human trafficking is exploitation, in most cases sexual exploitation or forced labor.

People all over the world are victims of human trafficking, both in their own countries and abroad. Because this is a widespread issue with varying levels, it becomes increasingly challenging to address it with a single set of laws or policies. While many countries have adopted their own policies for addressing this international issue, there are many things that people everywhere can do to join the fight against human trafficking. Some of the solutions for this problem are presented in the text below.

Top 10 Solutions to Human Trafficking

  1. Fundraising. Holding a fundraiser and donating the money raised to one of the countless organizations that help to fight human trafficking not only gives money to the cause but also brings awareness to the issue. Most organizations working to fight human trafficking are nonprofit organizations that rely on donations. Holding fundraisers helps maintain these nonprofits.
  2. Volunteer. Volunteering time and effort to an anti-trafficking organization is a great way to contribute to the fight against human trafficking. In addition to helping the organization itself, the more volunteers there are, the greater the outreach can be. For example, Unseen is a nonprofit organization that helps victims of human trafficking by providing specialist care to help them along the road to recovery. There are several volunteer roles with Unseen, ranging in levels of time commitment.
  3. Be aware of the signs of human trafficking. Being educated on signs that could indicate someone is a victim of human trafficking increases the likelihood of reporting and could give a voice to victims who do not feel comfortable speaking out for themselves. Signs that someone is a victim of human trafficking come in several categories. Poor work and living conditions, poor mental health and lack of control are some of the main areas to look for.
  4. Advocate. Meeting with or reaching out to local, state and federal representatives informs them that their constituents are passionate about fighting human trafficking, and brings the issue to their attention. This increases the likelihood that they will do something about it. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, for example, is the cornerstone of anti-trafficking legislation in America, yet it expired in 2011. Anti-trafficking nonprofits all over the country band together to advocate for its re-authorization, which was granted in 2013.
  5. Hold events to raise awareness. Raising awareness for human trafficking can also get more people involved and interested in joining the fight. It can create a chain reaction, leading to more people lobbying, fundraising and educating themselves. Regardless of what the event is, they are efficient ways to raise awareness for a cause and gain new followers.
  6. Boycott products and companies that permit human trafficking. Many goods produced in the United States and abroad are products of victims of human trafficking. Being conscientious about the products consumed and the companies supported is an easy way to contribute to the fight against human trafficking. An easy way to find out what products contribute to a “slavery footprint,” is the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.
  7. Help survivors. Donate clothes and other goods to shelters for victims of human trafficking. Also, encourage businesses to give jobs to survivors, helping them get back on their feet and get a fresh start. If applicable, offering legal advice to survivors allows them an opportunity to not only move forward but to gain justice. Helping survivors and contributing to their recovery stops the cycle of trauma in its tracks and ensures it won’t repeat itself.
  8. Stay informed. There are many anti-trafficking nonprofits with blogs and updates that people can subscribe to, keeping them in the loop of any new information or solutions to human trafficking. For example, the nonprofit organization Polaris Project offers updates via email for anyone who chooses to subscribe.
  9. Report suspicions – It is important to know the resources available. When traveling abroad, it is beneficial to look up the emergency phone number of the given country, to enable quick reports should a trafficking victim be spotted.
  10. Help combat the demand. The main factor that keeps human trafficking such a big issue is the constant demand for cheap labor and exploitation. Traffickers often turn to websites such as Craigslist and Backpage to target vulnerable potential victims. Enforcing stricter validity checks on websites like these and offering jobs through more reliable online platforms is attacking the problem at its root, and stopping human trafficking before it even begins.

These solutions to human trafficking can be applied to the lives of people everywhere, helping everyone feel like they are joining the fight against this international issue. At the political level, however, there is also a lot being done to combat human trafficking. In 2000, the U.S. Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, establishing what is now called the 3Ps: punish traffickers, protect victims, and prevent this problem from reoccurring. There is great progress being made on a grander scale, but by working towards these solutions and implementing them into everyday life human trafficking can become a more manageable problem.

– Charlotte Kriftcher

Photo: Flickr

causes of human trafficking in India
Human trafficking, defined as the illegal trade of humans most commonly for the purposes of sexual slavery and forced labor, currently claims an estimated 24.9 million victims worldwide, and the Global Slavery Index estimates that 8 million trafficking victims live within India’s borders. In 2016, there were 8,132 human trafficking cases reported in India, a 20 percent increase from 2015, and there were 23,117 people rescued from the human trafficking system.

Of the people rescued, 60 percent were children, women and girls accounted for 55 percent, 33 percent were trafficked for sexual services, and 45 percent were trafficked for forced labor. While much of the global pervasiveness of human trafficking can be explained only by extreme poverty, political instability and war, the causes of human trafficking in India are more nuanced.

Causes of Human Trafficking in India

The causes of human trafficking in India can be explained in part by gender-based discrimination, responsible for the deaths of approximately 239,000 girls under the age of five in India each year. Gender-based discrimination is a cultural norm in India, as sons are considered more useful to the family than daughters. This heavily patriarchal society leaves girls with limited access to education, leading to gender gaps in both literacy rates and financial earning potentials.

According to the 2011 census, the literacy rate was 82 percent for men and 65 percent for women, and according to the 2013 census, men were paid 25 percent more than women. As a result of gender-based discrimination, the sex ratio in India is greatly skewed.

Because there are far more men in India than young women, bride trafficking, or the illegal sale of women for the purpose of marriage, is becoming more prevalent in India. In the more rural Northern states, where the sex ratio is worse than the national average, bride trafficking has become a norm. More than 90 percent of married women in these Northern states have been sold from other states, some as many as three times, often first becoming brides as preteens. Gender-based discrimination in India has perpetuated a societal structure that strongly favors males over females to the point of self-destruction, as men are unable to find wives, thus driving demand for the human trafficking of women in India for the purpose of marriage.

Sex Trafficking

Another cause of human trafficking in India is a lack of opportunity in India’s poor communities, especially for uneducated women, to provide for their families. In 2012, only 43 percent of women in India worked regular wage or salaried positions. Victims of sex trafficking in India are predominantly young, illiterate girls from impoverished families in rural states. Although poverty is decreasing in India, 28 percent of the population still lives below the poverty line.

Poor communities are especially vulnerable to human traffickers, as they often offer better job opportunities or debt relief to lure victims. With limited opportunities to make money, offers like these are hard to decline for young women. Sex trafficking victims average 10 to 14 years of age, down from its previous average of 14 to 16, because younger girls are thought to be less likely to carry sexually-transmitted diseases.

Forced Labor

The causes of male trafficking in India is primarily tied with forced or bonded labor. Bonded labor, defined as a system of forced or partly forced labor under which a debtor accepts an advance of cash for a pledge of labor, by the debtor or any member of the debtor’s family, for the benefit of a creditor, is deeply entrenched in India’s social structure. While bonded labor was abolished in India in 1976, many industries who rely on bonded labor schemes for their workforces have turned to the human trafficking trade for workers in their spinning mills, granite quarries and brick kilns.

Like the bride and sex trafficking trade, forced labor traffickers recruit victims from poor, rural areas of India, promising lump-sum payments at the end of their contracts. Workers are meagerly compensated for their labor, and terrible working conditions provoke illnesses that lead to wage advances and loans that keep the worker in lifelong debt to their contractors.

Solutions

The Government of India has been making strides to address its human trafficking problem by heightening its border security, increasing its budget for aid to trafficking victims and drafting an anti-trafficking bill. In February 2018, the Union Cabinet passed the Trafficking in Persons Bill to be voted on by Parliament. If passed, the bill would criminalize aggravated forms of trafficking and establish a national anti-trafficking bureau, along with locally stationed anti-trafficking units. This bill also includes methods to rehabilitate victims, addresses physical and mental trauma and promoted education, health and skill development.

Additionally, the Rescue Foundation, established in 2000, helps to investigate, rescue and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking in India. Rehabilitation programs include education, computer training, legal aid and counseling. As a result of the Rescue Foundation, more than 5,000 victims have been rescued and more than 15,000 have been rehabilitated and repatriated.

The causes of human trafficking in India include gender discrimination, a vulnerability of the impoverished population and the desperation of the impoverished to support their families. Trafficking industries in India are taking advantage of the plight of India’s disadvantaged and impoverished population for the benefit of others, as trafficking victims are rarely paid as they’re promised.

However, human trafficking in India seems to be endangered as the government progresses in reducing human trafficking in the nation by increasing its border security, aid for trafficking victims and passing the Trafficking in Persons Bill to Parliament. Moreover, nongovernmental organizations like the Rescue Foundation have been successful in rescuing, rehabilitating, and repatriating victims of trafficking back to their families.

– Jillian Baxter
Photo: Flickr

Failed statesA country is considered a ‘failed state’ when it cannot control its territory and population as well as when fails to secure its borders. A failed state has barely functioning executive, legislative and judicial institutions, which in turn, breeds corruption since the honest economic activity is not rewarded by the state. Here are 10 facts about failed states.

10 Facts About Failed States

  1. Throughout history, civil wars, ethnic cleansing and human rights violations have led to states losing the capacity to regulate and control themselves. When a state loses the capacity to implement policies throughout the country, when it cannot establish public order and equity, and when the government cannot assure the independence of institutions, instability and insecurity reign.

  2. North Korea is often called the ‘hermit kingdom’ due to its isolated nature. The country frequently receives low scores on its legitimacy of state. Aid organizations estimate that around 2 million people have died from food shortages since the mid-1990s. Part of this can be traced back to the economic institutions that prohibit people from owning property as the state collectively owns most land and capital.

  3. Another sign of a faile state is forced labor. In Uzbekistan, students are forced to pick cotton, one of Uzbekistan’s biggest exports. In September, while teachers are relegated to the role of labor recruiters. The children are given quotas of between 20 and 60 kilograms, which varies according to their age. Thus, the children are unable to break out of the cycle of poverty due to their lack of learning.

  4. Syria can be considered a failed state as it is experiencing a civil war that has claimed 100,000 lives and has no end in sight. The country receives an extremely low score for security apparatus, according to Foreign Policy magazine’s annual metric data.

  5. Egypt’s elite is monopolizing the economy to block the entry of new competitors. Under Hosni Mubarak, the military and government own large portions of the economy. According to some estimates, they collectively own up to 40 percent. Even after liberalization, the economy was privatized into the hands of Mubarak’s friends and sons’ companies. Big businesses put a stranglehold on the economy while Mubarak’s family accumulated an estimated $70 billion fortune.

  6. In most failed states, it is typical for the regime and its leaders to prey on its constituents. The regime tends to be motivated by ethnic or intercommunal hostility or even the insecurities of the elite, which lead to the victimization of their citizens or a subset demographic which is deemed ‘hostile.’ This is the case in Mobutu Seke Soso’s Zaire, where the ruling elite oppress and extort the majority of citizens while expressing preferential treatment for a specific sect or clan.

  7. Failed states can often be identified by weak infrastructure. As the rulers or ruling class becomes more and more corrupt, there are often fewer capital resources available for road crews, equipment and raw materials. For example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, refurbishing navigational aids along aerial waterways was not prioritized.

  8. In order to have a successful economy, a country must have a strong, centralized nation-state. Without this, it becomes exceedingly difficult to provide law and order as mechanisms to solve disputes and provide basic public goods. Somalia exemplifies this failure to exercise control over territories beyond its capital. This can be attributed to the traditional social structure in Somalia where clans made decisions according to the adult males as opposed to adhering to a central authority figure. This persisted in the colonial era and into the modern day with Mohammed Siad Barre’s dictatorship failing to change it.

  9. An economy based on extreme extraction breeds political instability as it incentivizes the non-elites to depose the ruling class and take over. In Sierra Leone, Siaka Stevens and his All People’s Congress (APC) party ran the country from 1967 to 1985 as a dictatorship until he handed control to his protege Joseph Momoh. This invited would-be strongmen such as Foday Sankoh to plunge the country into a vicious civil war in 1991. He was only interested in power in order to steal diamonds. The government revenue went from 15 percent of national income to essentially zero in 1991.

  10. Corruption flourishes on a governmental, nationwide level. Examples include benefitting from anything that can be put to fake tender (medical supplies, bridges, roads, textbooks), wasteful construction projects and licenses for non-existent activities. The corrupt ruling elites mostly invest their ill-gotten money overseas, which worsens the economic situation domestically. Military officers too are guilty of profiting off these corrupt regimes.

In an earlier era where the world was less connected and globalized, it might have been possible to isolate the effects of a failed state from the others. However, in the connected state of today’s global economy and political system, the failures of one state poses grave threats to the security of others. These 10 facts about failed states shed a little more light on sign to look out for when identifying states that have failed or are going in that direction.

Maneesha Khalae

Photo: Flickr

Indonesian fishing industry
The Indonesian fishing industry provides a significant portion of fish to the world’s fish market. Recently, however, this industry in Indonesia has been under scrutiny for its poor practices, including slave labor, human trafficking, physical abuse and illegal antibiotics.

Slave Labor in the Indonesian Fishing Industry

Due to the high demand for fish, fishing boats are staying at sea longer, traveling farther and the crews are working more hours each day. To fill these undesirable jobs and cut costs, many companies turned to forced labor. In 2015, a small island in Indonesia, Benjina, was discovered to be housing over 300 slaves for the fishing industry, many of them being Burmese migrant workers.

Since then, thousands of people have been rescued from the island, fishing boats, processing plants and popular fishing port. Afterward, these people told their individual stories of abuse and enslavement. Many were kidnapped or came under false pretenses and kept on Benjina for years, sometimes in cages, with no contact to the outside world. Those placed to work on a boat remained at sea for months at a time, with little access to food and clean water and suffered physical abuse from their supervisors. Others were locked in processing plants for years, forced to work 16-hour shifts uncompensated.

Concerns with Farmed Fish

Farmed fish can often be a good alternative to wild-caught ones because it reduces the amount of fishing necessary to meet market demands and allows the fish populations to recover from overfishing, but there are still many concerns associated with it. Farmed fish are fed fish meal made from wild-caught fish. This means that purchasing a farm-raised fish may still mean supporting slave labor earlier in the production line.

Antibiotic use is also a serious concern in many regions in the Indonesian fishing industry. In the country, shrimp farming is a particularly popular type of aquaculture. A significant portion of U.S. shrimp imports comes from Indonesian farms. Many antibiotics are used by Indonesian shrimp farmers that are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Issues with traceability and low levels of chemical testing during customs allow for many of these contaminated shrimp to enter the country and stock supermarket shelves.

Technology Changing Farming Practices

An Indonesian tech company, eFishery, is working towards improving the Indonesian fishing industry. The company aims to introduce new technologies that will improve farming conditions, take pressure off fishing and reduce the need for harmful antibiotics in aquaculture. They are the sole producers of a “smart fish feeder”, an app that times scheduled feeds so that farmers can monitor their farms on a mobile device. Overfeeding is common practice in aquaculture around the world, and this device can save farmers 21 percent in food costs.

They also work to promote direct farm to consumer sales through an online marketplace. By removing wholesalers from the distribution chain, farmers receive more money for their product and are able to increase wages for workers. Additionally, this improves transparency so the consumer knows exactly where their fish came from, how it was produced, and when it was harvested, eliminating health concerns such as antibiotic use and freshness.

Companies like eFishery are using technologies to improve the efficiency and sustainability of aquaculture. Consumers benefit from fair market prices and more information about the fish, while farmers receive a higher percentage of the profit for their product and cut extraneous costs.

At the same time, there is less need for harmful overfishing practices that have decimated wild fish populations and formed a culture of slave labor and abuse. This sort of technology has the potential to transform the Indonesian fishing industry and improve the lives of those who work in it.

Georgia Orenstein

Photo: Flickr

ending modern slaverySlavery is not a widely accepted or legal practice nowadays, but it is far from extinct. In 2016, there were an estimated 40.3 million people trapped in modern slavery. This slavery can take the form of forced labor, domestic slavery and sexual exploitation among others with many of these slaves being young children. Although, sexual slavery is often what many people think of when they first hear the term “modern slavery,” nearly 25 million people have been exploited as slaves for forced labor.

This is an epidemic that can seem quite daunting at times but has gained more recognition in recent years. Now, nonprofits, businesses and governments around the world are working to end modern slavery. One nonprofit in particular has used technology to their advantage and, on July 30, launched an anti-slavery application for smartphones in The United Kingdom in the hopes of ending modern slavery.

Smartphones and Ending Modern Slavery

In 2016, The U.K. nonprofit, Unseen, started a nationwide Modern Slavery Helpline that individuals could call to report incidents that looked like slavery. This hotline saw a large increase in usage at the beginning of 2018 with an 80 percent increase in reports. In order to make reporting easier and raise awareness for this problem, Unseen developed a new smartphone app.

The app has easy-to-read guides on identifying the signs of modern slavery and is an easier version of their confidential hotline. It features graphics showing what slavery can look like in different contexts, such as in manufacturing, construction, agriculture or domestic work. The guides are even detailed enough to show users different physical signs or movements that may indicate slavery.

The nonprofit recognized that traffickers and pimps are using technology and all the resources available to them to recruit, exploit and control their slaves. In order to fight traffickers and slavery, this organization created its own app to be innovative in its solutions to fighting this problem, believing it is an important step in ending modern slavery.

As of right now, arrests solely based on the hotline have been low, but different agencies in The U.K. are embracing the app and will hopefully begin to rely on it more. Currently, the app is only available in The U.K., but slavery is a widespread problem that has a deep tie to global poverty.

The Tie Between Poverty and Slavery

There are many factors contributing to modern slavery, but one of the most prominent is poverty. The International Labour Organization (ILO) argues that poverty and income shocks are key to understanding forced labor and slavery.

The ILO articulates that people living in poverty are more likely to borrow money, which can make them vulnerable to exploitation.  When a family experiences extreme poverty they are more likely to rely on a third party for emergency funds. Oftentimes, due to a lack of financial resources, this dependence ends up being on a recruiter or trafficker and leads to manipulation, slavery and exploitation. Slavery traps its victims in a tragic cycle where they end up impoverished with little escape.

Other factors that The ILO highlights are education and illiteracy, which are often more common in impoverished societies. Often people who are less educated end up working in manual labor where forced labor and slavery is more common. It is also more challenging for these people to gain an understanding of their rights and protections against slavery or how to exercise these rights to defend themselves.

Although there is much progress to be made in ending modern slavery, innovative nonprofits like Unseen are creatively helping solve this problem and will hopefully inspire others to do the same. Being able to safely report incidents of slavery is the first step to ending this horrible exploitation.

Alexandra Eppenauer
Photo: Flickr

Saharan AfricaChild labor is a major concern for the future of developing nations. This represents a practice that hinders the development of the poorest nations on the planet while simultaneously hampering the development of their future generations. This practice has a large impact on the youngest among us; however, we do have reason to be optimistic that, together, we can end the exploitation of children.

Top 10 Facts About Child Labor

  1. Currently, reports indicate that approximately 168 million children are exploited by child labor around the world. Of those 168 million, approximately 100 million are boys and 68 million are girls.
  2. Poverty and lack of educational opportunities are the main factors that often force children to work because children must work in order to help their families financially. Furthermore, if children have limited access to education, many are forced to turn to work in order to provide for themselves and their families.
  3. Most children work in the agricultural sectors, growing cash-crops like coffee or cocoa that are then shipped to richer, more developed countries.
  4. Emergencies or crises often force children to work. Take Syria for example; many of the families that have fled the country have young children. In many cases, these children have to work in order to help the family overcome the hardships associated with fleeing their war-torn country.
  5. The highest incidence of child labor takes place in sub-Saharan Africa. This is due, in part, to the high levels of poverty in the area and the need for unskilled labor to work on the many cash-crop producing farms.
  6. Due to an increase in awareness and work of several organizations, child labor is on the decline. Between 2000 and 2012, the total number of children being exploited for their labor has declined from 245 million to 168 million children.
  7. Consumers can help end child labor by being well-informed and making sure that companies they buy from do not engage in child labor practices. While this might require more research from the consumer, it is a critical step in ensuring that child labor ends.
  8. Access to education opportunities can end child labor. If parents can send their children to a safe, quality school, then they may encourage them to stay in school and continue their education instead of immediately trying to work.
  9. U.N. member states adopted 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development in 2015. These Goals included ending all forms of slavery, child labor and exploitation by 2025.
  10. Individuals can make a difference in helping to end child labor by contacting their representatives and senators in Congress or other government officials and encouraging them to support legislation and initiatives that help end global poverty. In doing so, those individuals become advocates for children’s rights and help eliminate some of the conditions and causes of child labor. People can also get involved through groups like The International Labor Organization (ILO), which works with governments to set labor standards and prevent forced and child labor.

Now more than ever, there is a reason to be optimistic about ending the exploitation of children for labor. As the facts show, child labor is decreasing and many global programs are working to end it once and for all. Hopefully, these top 10 facts about child labor will encourage you to act. As consumers, we can demand that businesses do not exploit the labor of children. As concerned citizens and voters, we can demand that our leaders work to address this problem and end it forever.

– Raymond Terry

Photo: Flickr


In 2016, the Global Slavery Index estimated that 425,500 people, equivalent to 0.63 percent of Thailand’s total population, currently live in conditions of modern slavery.

Three Main Forms of Modern Day Slavery in Thailand

Modern day slavery in Thailand manifests in predominately three forms:

  • Forced labor
  • Commercial sexual exploitation
  • Child soldiers

The most prevalent of these forms is forced labor, specifically within Thailand’s fishing industry. Human trafficking for forced labor in the Thai fishing industry enslaves not only men and women, but also children from the Greater Mekong Subregion. In the U.S., this $7 billion industry forces those enslaved to endure brutal treatment including severe and frequent physical abuse, threats of abuse, excessive and inhumane working hours, sleep and food deprivation, forced use of methamphetamines and lengthy, confined trips at sea.

Yellow Card

After media exposés in 2014 and 2015 that showed human trafficking and brutalizations of fishers on Thai fishing boats, the country received a “yellow card” warning from abroad; this means that the nation could face a ban on seafood export to the European Union. Following the EU’s actions, the United States placed Thailand on the Tier 2 Watch List in its 2017 Trafficking in Persons report, a ranking given to governments who do not fully meet the minimum standards for trafficking elimination.

In response, the Thai government removed antiquated fishing laws and issued a new ordinance to regulate the fishing industry. It further extended the application of the key provisions of labor law regulating wages and conditions of work to fishing vessels and established in law some International Labour Organization treaty provisions through the adoption of the 201 Ministerial Regulation concerning Labour Protection in Sea Fishery Work.

Thai Reforms & Pink Cards

These efforts led to the requirement of legal documentation and accounting on crew lists of migrant fishers as boats departed and returned to port, which aimed to help end some of the worst abuses. Thailand also created the system of “port-in, port-out” which demands that boats report for inspections as they depart and return to port. The system also established procedures for inspection of fishing vessels at sea.

Other reforms have been enacted in the industry in the wake of two reports by the International Labor Organization in 2013, and the Environmental Justice Foundation in 2014. These reports led to responses by the Thai government to introduce registration documents, also known as pink cards, for migrant workers on board. The government also instituted practices to inspect ships’ crews when leaving and returning to port. Along with vessel monitoring systems, other measures have led to important improvements for fishers, including limiting time at sea to 30 days.

Room for Improvement

However the report from Human Rights Watch, “Hidden Chains: Forced Labor and Rights Abuses in Thailand’s Fishing Industry,” shows how recent reforms addressing modern day slavery in Thailand’s fishing fleets haven’t totally rid the industry of coercive labor practices.

The report also asserts that even amongst Thai government’s pronouncements to rein in human rights abuses, the instances still remain widespread; as a result, joint efforts need to be made. Although the U.S. and EU have taken steps to punish the Thai government for abusive practices, “The EU and U.S. urgently need to increase pressure on Thailand to protect the rights, health and safety of fishers.”

Challenges still remain. Overfishing in the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea has forced fishing vessels to operate at greater distances from shore, traveling at times along the coastlines of Indonesia and other neighboring countries. This has led monitoring difficulties both jurisdictionally and practically. This problem is only intensified by poor registration and licensing of fishing vessels — many operate under layers of false documentation. Furthermore, the government’s system of pink card ties the fishers’ “legal status to specific locations and employers whose permission they need to change jobs, creating an environment ripe for abuse.”

Making Progress

Despite these obstacles, progress has been made. Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs defended the country’s progress thus far by stating, “The Government has implemented various legal reforms, policies, and strengthened law enforcement on labour protection as well as engaged closely with the private sector, non-governmental organizations and neighboring countries. As a result, there has been significant improvement in the labour situation in the fishing industry in many areas.”

Progress thus far has shown that there is hope for reform and change in Thai’s fishing industry. Through the help of international players, modern day slavery in Thailand can be defeated.

– Ashley Quigley

Photo: Flickr

End Modern SlaverySlavery is never an easy problem to confront. It is uncomfortable and unpleasant to think about, a complex jumble of economics, politics, culture, and dozens of other areas. It is also very uncomfortable to address the possibility that many western clothes and electronics are made by slaves. However, poverty cannot end completely without ending slavery, and slavery will not end without an end to poverty. They feed off one another, so in order to end poverty, people must end modern slavery as well.

Society tends to imagine slavery as an issue of the past, a horrible chapter of human history that closed with the ban on the slave trade in Europe and the emancipation proclamation in America. But slavery has continued, and today, there are more people in slavery than at any other time in human history. Twenty-seven million people are enslaved today, 79 percent of whom are women and children. Almost every country in the world is somehow involved in human trafficking and slavery, either as a country of origin, transit or destination.

Many people who become trapped in slavery are the people who are already trapped in poverty. People in extreme poverty often try to find ways out of their desperate situation, and many are lured into the slave trade with promises of education, steady work and a better life. Instead, they are sold into slavery, often for as little as $90 a person, and imprisoned with literal chains or psychological pressure. They can then be forced into different types of slavery, including sexual exploitation and prostitution, forced labor, being compelled to act as beggars, benefit fraud and organ removal.

There are laws and international protocols against the slave trade, but they are poorly enforced and often ineffective. Victims fear coming forward to the authorities because of stigmas and the risk of imprisonment or deportation, even when they are the victims, not the criminals. The victims are often the ones to carry the social shame and punishments while the conviction rate for the slave traders remains low.

Ending modern day slavery feels like a difficult task. There is no open slave trade to end as there was in the 1700s and 1800s. The U.N. is one of the many organizations working to free people and give them a new life. Since the early ’90s, it has freed more than 90,000 people by working to prevent trafficking and protect victims. However, there are still millions more to free and prevent from becoming victims in the first place. The State Department has devised a strategy of prosecution, protection and prevention, the “3 P’s” that are aimed to end modern slavery.

One of the most important ways to end modern slavery is by preventing it. Both slavery and poverty are about “excluding people from economic and social justice,” so addressing economic and social issues deals with slavery and poverty together. By preventing individuals from falling into the desperate situations of poverty, they are less vulnerable to slave traffickers. Preventing social exclusion and discrimination is also an important step to stop slavery. Slowing the supply of victims by addressing these social and economic causes is a crucial step to ending modern slavery. Since many of these problems are also related to global poverty, this is a win-win situation.

Protection is another key way to end slavery. The movements of refugees and migrants have made many people more vulnerable, so safe migration and trade unions can help keep workers from becoming susceptible to the slave trade. Those already trapped in the slave trade should receive the proper treatment and legal action. This leads to the final P, which is prosecution of those running the slave trade. The low prosecution rates provide little deterrence for those involved with the slave trade, so cracking down on prosecution can act as a form of further deterrence.

Compared to the number of people in poverty, about 10 percent of the world’s population, the number of people in slavery is small. However, these 27 million people deserve far better treatment. Addressing the issues of poverty that cause the desperation can help end modern slavery, and ending modern slavery helps end poverty.

Rachael Lind

Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a disturbing crisis that affects individuals of all ages, sexes and races at a global level. It is a crime that is often regarded as one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. According to data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, human trafficking in the United States rose 35.7 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Human trafficking is essentially a form of modern-day slavery, where traffickers will use force, fraud or coercion to control victims. The two most common forms of human trafficking are sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Sex trafficking has been found in a multitude of venues within the sex industry, including residential brothels, escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs and street prostitution. Labor trafficking is found in a variety of labor settings such as domestic work, small businesses, large farms and factories.

Trafficking exists due to two major factors: low risk and high profits. Human traffickers tend to see little risk in these criminal operations. Although there have been increasing investigations, penalties and prosecutions throughout the years, the high profit potential from committing these crimes makes them worth the risk for many. There is often a lack of government and law enforcement training with these situations, as well as many in a community not being aware of the threat, ineffective laws, scarce resources to help victims recover and even social blaming of victims. Many of these high profits include when individuals are willing to buy commercial sex, whether it be from children or adults, and many consumers are willing to buy services from industries that rely on forced labor.

 

Top Facts on Human Trafficking:

 

  1. Globally, the average cost of a slave is $90.
  2. While 19 percent of trafficking involves labor exploitation, 80 percent of trafficking involves sexual exploitation.
  3. There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today.
  4. About 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, and 80 percent are female while half are children.
  5. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry—just behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking—and reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of the $32 billion, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized nations.
  6. According to the International Labour Organization, it is estimated that women and girls represent the largest share of trafficking victims when it comes to forced labor with 11.4 million (55 percent), compared to men at 9.5 million (45 percent).
  7. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the greatest numbers of traffickers stem from Asia, Central Europe, Southeastern Europe and Western Europe.

The Department of Homeland Security has a page that can help one recognize the signs of human trafficking, as well as a page on further identifying a victim with hotlines to call to report suspicious criminal activity to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Being informed on human trafficking as well as the proper steps to take when potentially encountering a trafficking victim could save someone from an unfortunate and disturbing fate.

Sara Venusti

Photo: Flickr