Human Trafficking in Thailand
In Thailand, about 610,000 people are victims of modern-day slavery. According to the Global Slavery Index, about one in 113 among its 69 million population was prey to human trafficking as of 2018. There are steps the Government of Thailand can take to end human trafficking in Thailand. While some have made progress in reducing the human trafficking trade, urgent government action is necessary to impact Thai citizens and migrant workers widely.

Challenges Eliminating Human Trafficking in Thailand

A big part of the country’s prevention efforts must involve the protection of migrants. Thailand’s population has about 4.9 million migrants – making up 10% of its workforce – according to the United Nations. Most individuals migrating to Thailand are from poorer neighboring countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia, and are, therefore, more vulnerable to trafficking.

The country passed The Royal Ordinance on Management of Migrant Workers in March 2018, which requires employers to cover recruitment fees and transportation costs for migrant workers in Thailand. These transportation finances include the arrival and return home of employed migrant workers.

However, the country has not defined or enforced the regulations on these fees well. According to 2019’s annual Trafficking in Person’s Report from the U.S. Department of State, several recruitment agencies and brokers still required workers to pay for their recruitment fees and transportation costs. Four of the “67 migrant worker recruitment agencies” that the government reviewed were still violating the law in 2018.

The Government of Thailand’s Efforts

Due to the rise in human trafficking in Thailand in recent years, the Government of Thailand is making significant efforts to meet the standards for eliminating human trafficking. Key strategies include more victim identification, as well as normalizing more anti-trafficking policies. Other important factors involve training officials in victim identification and using interview techniques that allow victims to have a safer environment to report to. The government also increased efforts to raise awareness of the issue, organizing campaigns through all forms of media – newspapers, television, radio, social media, billboards and handouts – to alert the public about the seriousness of the issue.

The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS) created hotlines for citizens to report human trafficking in Thailand anonymously where operators spoke 12 different languages. In 2018, the MSDHS prosecuted 63 cases from the 161 calls related to possible trafficking crimes.

The Government of Thailand has policies in place to protect victims of human trafficking. People identified as trafficking victims are viable to receive help from the Thailand government, which includes staying at a shelter and receiving compensation through a state fund. Victims also qualify for legal aid while awaiting trial to give evidence or returning home. In 2019, The Government of Thailand provided legal and social services to 12,857 migrant workers who were vulnerable or otherwise affected by human trafficking in Thailand.

The USAID Thailand Counter Trafficking in Persons Project

Other programs work with the Government of Thailand to reduce human trafficking in Thailand. The USAID Thailand Counter Trafficking in Persons Project “works to decrease trafficking and better protect the rights of trafficked persons in Thailand by reducing demand for using trafficked labor and strengthening protection systems for survivors.” One of the key goals of the organization is finding and removing barriers in identifying victims of human trafficking, which it partners with the Government of Thailand to accomplish.

The International Labor Organization (ILO)

The International Labor Organization (ILO) is an NGO that works with countries on several workplace-related issues, including human trafficking in Thailand. Since its creation in 1919 at the Treaty of Versailles, the organization has set out to set labor standards and create programs for all.

Over the past years, the ILO has joined forces with the European Union and the Government of Thailand through the Ship to Shore Rights Project to support the Thai seafood and fishing industries in complying with international labor standards, offering protection from illegal labor. According to its 2020 report, it has stepped up its work with the Project and has implemented an approach to address major gaps, including the improvement of representation for Thai workers.

In January 2019, the Royal Thai Government ratified the ILO Convention on Work in Fishing, which provides standards for recruitment and placement to work onboard a fishing vessel, as many people in Thailand undergo trafficking for the seafood industry.

Thailand became the first country in Asia to ratify the law, reflecting the organization’s belief that people can accomplish universal and lasting peace only if it is based on social justice. Though it may be easy to focus on the negative, it is important to note that steps are emerging to reduce human trafficking in Thailand. Thailand still requires improvements, but one should not ignore its efforts.

– Celia Brocker
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Sub-Saharan Africa
Human trafficking is a global issue that affects nearly every country. Countries can experience trafficking in two different ways: either the victim can originate from that region, or the trafficking circle might function there. In Sub-Saharan Africa, victims have come from over 60 countries, some located outside of the African continent. This issue affects the human race as a whole rather than just the lives of a specific gender or ethnicity. Due to widespread corruption in Africa’s legal system, many consider human trafficking a low-risk organized crime, a belief that has resulted in trafficking becoming one of the most profitable illegal enterprises. Here is some information about human trafficking in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Situation

Although most people associate human trafficking with sexual exploitation, in Sub-Saharan Africa, less than one-third of trafficking victims that the authorities have identified experienced capture with this intention. Instead, both male and female children, which make up more than half of Sub-Saharan trafficking victims, worked in forced labor. Parents typically volunteer these children, who traffickers have forced into physical labor, as a result of poverty and ignorance of the trafficker’s true intentions. Typically, parents expect that their child will return with wages that would improve the family’s economic stature, yet in many scenarios, these children receive very little pay and become indentured into slave labor in places like Mauritania.

Three different types of human trafficking occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Child trafficking, which includes farm labor and domestic work, is the most common type of human trafficking in Sub-Saharan Africa. It tends to occur in countries like Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Togo. They supply to Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo and Nigeria. Although less likely, traffickers may transport women and young people outside the region to engage in explicit sexual behaviors. Additionally, traffickers may transport other women throughout the region to contribute to the domestic sex industry.

Trafficking has had an overwhelming global impact. According to the United Nations record, 2.5 million people are either engaging in forced labor or sexual exploration at any given time. Of that figure, 130,000 people, or 5.2%, are from Sub-Saharan countries. Thus, within those African regions, the human trafficking industry has generated an income of $1.6 billion, demonstrating that it is a massive criminal enterprise.

Solutions

The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime has added two related protocols, one being the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which is the first legally binding instrument defining human trafficking. “The Protocol contains provisions on a range of issues, including criminalization, assistance to and protection for victims, the status of victims in the receiving states, repatriation of victims, preventive measures, actions to discourage the demand, exchange of information and training, and measures to strengthen the effectiveness of border controls.”

The other protocol that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime created is the United Nations Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air. This specific protocol aims to prevent the smuggling of migrants as well as the exploitation that usually follows, by promoting cooperation between States parties to protect the rights of these migrants. Both of these treaties establish international models for other laws against human trafficking and those countries that sign agree to oblige by the necessary international actions.

These treaties have also inspired other initiatives, such as the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT), implemented in 2007. Even better is that almost every country located in Sub-Saharan Africa has signed this initiative except for Somalia and Zaire. UN.GIFT.HUB says that its mission is to “mobilize state and non-state actors to eradicate human trafficking by reducing both the vulnerability of potential victims and the demand for exploitation in all its forms.” The fight against human trafficking in Sub-Saharan Africa is expanding and seeing countries unite together to protect one another provides hope to those who may perceive it as a hopeless situation.

– Victoria Mangelli
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Venezuela
As the political, economic and social unrest continues in Venezuela, an increase in awareness and response to human trafficking is more urgent than ever. Human trafficking is a crime that exploits someone for labor, slavery, servitude or sex. Some of the causes of human trafficking (relentless poverty, high unemployment rates, violence, civil turmoil and a lack of human rates) are motivating 6.5 million Venezuelans to flee their country. About 94% of Venezuelans live in poverty, with an estimated 300% increase in human trafficking between 2014 and 2016. The former Venezuelan President, Maduro, administration prioritized maintaining power and carried out tenuous trafficking eradication attempts, including a lack of investigations, prosecutions and convictions. In response to the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis, organizations like UNICEF, UNFPA, UNHCR and IMO are contributing strong efforts to meet the needs of citizens, refugees and migrants and prevent human trafficking in Venezuela.

Inconsistencies in Human Trafficking Criminalization

From 2013 to 2019, the Maduro administration was responsible for managing economic adversity, increased crime rates and immense migration in an attempt to obviate human trafficking in Venezuela. The Maduro administration utilized Misiones (government social aid programs) as a deterrent to poverty and human trafficking in Venezuela. Misiones benefitted some communities by providing basic needs and education but became ineffective in 2014 due to its shifting political agenda, administrative instability and insufficient funding.

Venezuela has established human trafficking as a crime, but it still does not have an anti-trafficking law and policy. The Maduro administration demonstrated the intention to combat the development of human trafficking. However, Venezuelan law in 2019 only criminalized select forms of trafficking with insufficient penalties, prevention, reporting and protection of vulnerable groups. The human trafficking industry usually percolates between developing countries, making the rapid increase the only quantifiable data. Despite the challenge in obtaining evidence, eradicating human trafficking is most successful through prevention methods, the punishment of the perpetrator and adequate protection for the victim.

UNICEF and UNFPA

Venezuelan women and children are particularly vulnerable to the risk of being trafficked while migrating to neighboring South American countries. The urgency Venezuelan migrants feel to send money back to their families increases the risk for criminal gangs and guerrilla groups to force children into begging and women into sexual and labor exploitation.

On May 28, 2019, UNICEF and UNFPA signed an agreement heightening the humanitarian aid response to nearly 1 million children, pregnant women and mothers. This joined effort provides drinkable water, sexual and reproductive health services, high-quality birthing support, educational resources and information to increase safety for those who gender-based violence affects.

UNHCR

With an 8,000% increase in Venezuelans pursuing refugee status over the past six years, hundreds of thousands prevail without access to basic necessities. Without the authorization to stay in neighboring countries, arriving Venezuelans are highly susceptible to trafficking and desperately in need of documentation, shelter, nourishment and medical attention.

In December 2018, UNHCR collaborated with IOM and host countries to commence the Regional Response Plan for Refugees and Migrants which prioritizes 2.2 million Venezuelan migrant’s needs and improves overall assistance. UNHCR has increased protection along dangerous borders, provided basic resources for relief and ensured that refugees and migrants receive adequate information about advantageous opportunities.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM)

The 1 million Venezuelan children working in the informal labor sector and an estimated 200,000 children in servitude is likely to increase due to human trafficking in Venezuela. The Venezuelan government supported programming to improve conditions for working children and assist victims of human trafficking. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) imposed a campaign translated as “Your Life Challenges with fiscal support from the U.S. This campaign aims to protect Venezuelan children, women and men from traffickers during their transit. “Your Life Changes” is a song that conveys cautionary implications for travelers who are vulnerable to human trafficking. The campaign includes live demonstrations and the propagation of informative materials to increase awareness of forced labor and human trafficking in Venezuela.

The Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF)

Colombia currently hosts 1.8 million Venezuelan migrants, making The Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) a crucial development in the prevention of and support for youth victims of human trafficking. From March to June 2018, ICBF determined that there were 350 Venezuelan victims of child labor in Columbia. ICBF provides care, programs, assistance, shelter and evaluations for Venezuelan child trafficking victims. The Institute focuses on the prevention of human trafficking through its educational training and increased awareness strategies.

A Continued Response

The responses from International Conventions, government policies and agencies to aid Venezuelans have undoubtedly protected many from their dangerous reality. However, Venezuela has remained a Tier 3 country as the government is not doing enough to eradicate human trafficking. The inconsistencies in the Venezuelan criminalization of trafficking and anti-tracking laws have compromised the well-being and lives of far too many. The Venezuelan crisis has stripped citizens of their humanitarian rights, calling for continued, collective efforts to assist those in need.

– Violet Chazkel
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Peru
Peru is home to world-famous cultural sites, exquisite dishes and a vast array of bright-colored fabrics. However, beyond the nation’s appealing attractions and delectable meals, human trafficking in Peru is leading to the exploitation of the most vulnerable individuals in society.

Victims of Human Trafficking in Peru

Around 863,000 Venezuelans fled their country and entered Peru in order to seek refuge. Peruvian traffickers exploit refugees when traveling to Peru or shortly after their arrival. In 2019, 301 Venezuelan adults and children worked as prostitutes or engaged in forced labor.

Traffickers exploit adolescents due to their eagerness to work. When Peruvian schools close down from December to February for the holidays, many students seek employment to obtain extra pocket money. However, traffickers lure these individuals in with false promises of work and high financial compensation. Exploiters take the adolescent males to remote areas of the Amazon rainforest, like the Madre de Dios region, to engage in forced labor in the illegal extraction of gold. Additionally, traffickers obligate female teenagers to offer sex services to the adult miners in the area.

Lastly, exploiters target children due to their willingness to follow directions. However,  some Peruvians living in poverty willingly sell their children to human traffickers to receive financial compensation. The infamous terrorist group called The Shining Path steals children and trains them to become soldiers for its organization. Also, some children work as farmers, housekeepers, produce and transport drugs or engage in terrorism. Traffickers who do not belong to the terrorist group force young individuals to engage in panhandling, sell products in the streets, become housekeepers, produce and sell cocaine or other illegal activities.

Challenges with the Judicial System

Individuals found guilty of human trafficking in Peru spend eight to 15 years in prison for exploiting adults, 12 to 20 years for exploiting adolescents and at least 25 years for exploiting children according to Article 53 of the penal code. However, human traffickers almost never receive adequate punishment for their crimes. More often than not, criminals receive light sentences because judges find it difficult to prosecute more complicated crimes.

Solutions

The Peruvian government offered training and workshops on how to identify human trafficking to almost 1,000 government employees and regular citizens. Over 100 members of law enforcement learned how to better identify victims of human trafficking. Also, officials offered training to 22 regions of the country that receive a high amount of foreign visitors in order to reduce exploitation in the tourist sector. Lastly, the government provided support to initiatives that help raise awareness to students and children. These initiatives provide workshops, hand out flyers and engage in conversation with young individuals at transit stations. For example, since its establishment in 2017, A Theater Against Human Trafficking traveled to schools to promote awareness and advocate for the prevention of human trafficking in Peru.

With the in-kind support of the government, nonprofit organizations provided adequate training to 253 members of the judicial system on human trafficking, 821 lawyers and almost 1,000 shelters on how to deal with trafficking victims. They also taught classes to members of law enforcement on how to approach victims. One of the main organizations receiving help from the government is Capital Humano y Social Alternativo. Since its establishment in 2004, CHS Alternativo protected the rights of human trafficking victims and reached more than 1,400 victims.

The Catholic Relief Services in Peru provide shelter and protection to individuals who escaped their traffickers. CRS came to Peru in 1950 and impacted the lives of 15,224 victims. Social workers who work for these organizations go to areas that human trafficking most affects, like Madre de Dios, to provide counseling services to victims. Also, social workers go to local schools to provide workshops about trafficking to students.

Although human trafficking persists in Peru, the government and nonprofit organizations take serious efforts to raise awareness about the issue and to provide help for victims. With the increased efforts to stop human trafficking in Peru, the country can expect a decrease in the exploitation of vulnerable individuals.

– Samantha Rodriguez-Silva
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
With a population of over 98 million people, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the second-largest country in Africa. The country’s rich natural resources, such as copper, kept its economy afloat for several years and facilitated alliances with other nations. Unfortunately, corruption within the government and instability and violence from internal conflicts led to a wave of humanitarian crises and human trafficking in the DRC.

The Problem

The DRC is among the least developed countries in the world. Approximately 72% of the population lives in extreme poverty leaving the country’s people powerless and unprotected against the violence from internal armed conflict. Human trafficking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is prevalent as a result. Armed groups use sexual violence as an expression of power and weapon of war to degrade communities. Traffickers also take thousands of children and adults from their homes and force them into modern slavery and military service, but few victims file reports due to fear and coercion.

The standards set by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) classifies the DRC in the Tier 2 Watch List. This means that while the country is taking action to meet the TVPA’s standards, it still has high numbers of human trafficking victims, with 3,107 documented cases of children escaped from armed groups in 2019. The government has also failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to counter severe forms of trafficking. Here is what some are doing to rectify the human trafficking in the DRC.

Combating Human Trafficking

The Free the Slaves Project is an international organization and lobby group that campaigns against modern slavery. Its initiatives in the DRC include supporting local groups to promote and improve access to education and increased transparency by companies that import minerals from the DRC. Transparency is increasingly important as mining companies are guilty of using forced labor and consumers have the power to pressure companies to use ethically sourced materials through their choices. Additionally, the Free the Slaves Project teaches communities to mobilize to eliminate slavery and educates government officials about anti-trafficking laws and their duty to enforce them. Thus far, the project has increased resistance to slavery in 15 mining communities and trained dozens of security officials and civilian prosecutors on trafficking laws.

Another project that is helping reduce human trafficking in the DRC is The Children, Not Soldiers campaign. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the UN started The Children, Not Soldiers campaign to encourage international action against child recruitment and use in conflict. As part of the campaign, countries that have committed grave violations against children have to sign an Action Plan committing to the enforcement of criminal laws that prohibit and punish the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict. After the UN identified thousands of grave violations in the DRC in 2012, which included the abduction and recruitment of children, the country signed an Action Plan. In 2017, the campaign delisted the DRC from the Action Plan because of compliance to end and prevent the recruitment of children. For example, the DRC put several commanders of armed groups on trial for child recruitment and signed 21 commitments with armed groups to end the use of child soldiers, which led to the release of 920 children.

Continuing the Fight

While the DRC has moved up a Tier on the TVPA’s standards, there is still more the government can do to enforce international and domestic laws preventing and prohibiting human trafficking. The 2020 Trafficking in Person Report lists several recommendations to continue the progress the DRC has made to end human trafficking. This includes passing and enforcing legislative programs, training officials to identify victims and developing procedures for collecting data. However, these initiatives will require funding and guidance from experts that the DRC does not have access to. Evidently, ending human trafficking is a collective effort that requires help from everyone in the international community.

– Giselle Ramirez-Garcia
Photo: Flickr

human trafficking in Syria
In March 2011, protests against the Bashar al-Assad regime began in Syria. Since then, more than 500,000 people have lost their lives. About 5.6 million people are refugees in Syria and 6.2 million people have experienced displacement from the war within the country. These factors make human trafficking in Syria for the purpose of both labor and sex more prevalent due to the Syrian people’s vulnerability.

The Situation

The Syrian government has not held anyone accountable for these crimes. In fact, the government is often complicit in trafficking. Traffickers often force children displaced within Syria’s borders into combat as child soldiers. On the battlefield, regime soldiers use children as human shields or suicide bombers. The regime soldiers also trap women and young girls into marriage or force them into prostitution.

Due to the size of refugee populations, surrounding countries have reduced the number of visas they grant, leaving refugees with no choice but to cross borders illegally. Doing so means their fate is in the hands of smugglers. But, staying in Syria would mean having to survive unconscionable levels of violence and struggling to attain even the most basic resources.

How to Prevent Human Trafficking in Syria

The U.S. Department of State laid out the groundwork for breaking the cycle of abuse in its 2019 report on human trafficking in Syria. The first step is to identify the victims as quickly as possible followed by holding the government of Syria accountable for its own part in the problem. In addition, the report determined that victims should not receive prosecution for any crimes they committed. The final stretch to ensuring human trafficking becomes part of the past is for all those guilty of trafficking to experience prosection. So far, Syrian officials have not enacted any of these policies.

A large part of the issue is that there are no official laws banning human trafficking in Syria. This makes it difficult to identify victims, let alone perpetrators. When prosecuting criminals (such as prostitutes or beggars), the Syrian government does not make efforts to differentiate between trafficking victims and true criminals.  Too often, it punishes people for crimes they would not have willingly committed. The government has not spoken out against human trafficking, making it easy for victims of human trafficking in Syria to fall through the cracks, especially given the state of the civil war.

The Implementation of Sanctions

The lack of attention that Syria has paid to human trafficking has put it at risk of facing American sanctions. This means that the country could potentially face steep tariffs or limits on trading with the U.S. Currently, Syria already faces sanctions due to its association with and sponsorship of terrorist organizations.

Sanctions only worsen the state of poverty in Syria, causing the prices of necessities and goods to skyrocket. Organizations such as Caritas aim to provide food and shelter to anyone who war has affected, but it is an uphill climb. Human trafficking victims receive assistance from organizations like Caritas, but only when victims come forward themselves. Syrian officials make no effort to refer victims to organizations that may help them.

Despite the efforts of the U.S. government and charitable organizations, human trafficking in Syria remains an alarming situation. The government of Syria prevents meaningful change by not taking efforts to aid victims or prosecute traffickers. In order for the situation to improve, the government must stand up to protect its own people. Until then, the state of affairs will continue.

– Maddey Bussmann
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Greece
Meet Alicia. At 16, she took a trip from Africa to Greece to receive medical treatment. Upon her arrival, her dad’s friend took her passport and ID and locked her in an apartment with a woman she did not know. After the woman attacked her, Alicia learned that her dad’s friend sold her into prostitution. Alicia was one of the estimated 40,000 victims of human trafficking in Greece for prostitution. Fortunately, Alicia escaped the apartment and received the medical attention she desperately needed along with safety and shelter. Thanks to the shelter, Alicia became a legal citizen of Greece within a year and found a job.

What is Human Trafficking?

Alicia is one of the millions of women, men and children who become trafficking victims across the world each year. Human trafficking is the illegal trade of people to acquire labor or commercial sex. Victims of human trafficking are often economically and socially marginalized. Traffickers take advantage of their vulnerability and use force and deception to set traps, such as faulty jobs and romantic relationships.

Human Trafficking in Greece

Human trafficking in Greece has become the country’s top crime over the years for many reasons. For starters, trafficking data has significantly increased due to standardized data collection and reporting. Also, Greece has the 11th longest coastline globally, making it popular for organized crime groups. The coast borders many parts of Europe, Asia and Africa and is a fitting transit and destination location. In 2018, the organization A21 estimated that there were 89,000 victims of human trafficking in Greece and over half were victims in the sex trade.

The majority of traffickers in Greece are Greek. Meanwhile, most sex trafficking victims are women and children, and labor victims are men and children. The most trafficked victims in Greece are migrants and asylum-seekers who depend on smuggling and forced labor.

Human trafficking is unlawful and punishable at the state, federal and international levels. Greece’s response to human trafficking currently ranks at Tier 2. According to the U.S. Department of State, a country that falls in Tier 2 lacks the minimum standards for addressing human trafficking. The U.S. Department of State has prioritized several recommendations for Greece, many of which A21 is already pioneering.

A21 Fights Human Trafficking in Greece

A21 is a global anti-human trafficking organization that has the mission “to end slavery.” Since its launch in 2008, A21 has nearly one survivor enter its care every four days. In 2019, A21 rescued and secured freedom for hundreds of victims and won 20 trafficking lawsuits. This is impressive as prosecution numbers for human trafficking are small. For example, in 2019, the Greek government only prosecuted 25 defendants. If all A21’s lawsuit victories occurred in Greece, every three out of four cases would have ended with justice.

A21 currently has two offices in Greece, one in Athens and one in Thessaloniki. As mentioned, A21 has initiated many efforts to eradicate human trafficking in Greece. All of these efforts address the U.S. Department of State’s “prioritized recommendations,” significantly improving identification measures and restitution.

A21 Greece has significantly increased victim identification efforts in the country including training first-responders, judges, prosecutors and law enforcement, etc. A21 Greece provides presentations, awareness programs and campaigns about human trafficking, how to identify signs and reduce risk.

A21 Greece works with Greek authorities to secure survivors’ safety and justice that enter their care. This collaboration formed Greece’s national hotline for human trafficking, Line 1109. A21 Greece also provides legal assistance and resources for victims.

Although the U.S. Department of State did not recommend implementing restoration and rehabilitation programs for victims, A21 in Greece already has a headstart. A21 Greece has holistic care and support services such as the Guesthouse of A21 and A21 Greece Freedom Center. The Guesthouse of A21 is a short-term hostel for rescued victims. The A21 Greece Freedom Center is long-term housing, providing survivors with resources and support to become fully independent. Some services include counseling, job searching and vocational skills training.

Let Freedom Ring!

On Thursday, November 12, 2020, another victim of human trafficking in Greece entered freedom. Like many other victims, someone she trusted tricked her into sexual exploitation. Thanks to Line 1109, A21 Greece’s sponsored human trafficking hotline, the authorities intervened and brought her to safety. Now she is receiving the necessary care and support and representation in court.

Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry, with over 40 million enslaved victims. Governments around the globe are working diligently to improve eradication efforts. However, they cannot do it alone. Organizations like A21 have immense resources, training and services that aid in rescuing and restoring victims.

– LaCherish Thompson
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Eritrea
Eritrea is an isolated, one-party state where children must frequently leave school for mandatory military training along with a large percentage of farmers and agricultural workers. This leaves food, water, education and shelter from violence almost inaccessible. For these reasons, many Eritrean citizens seek shelter in neighboring countries or refugee shelters where human trafficking is the most rampant. Human trafficking in Eritrea is very common due to over 30 years of violence between neighboring countries leaving it extremely militarized and vulnerable.

Human trafficking is a serious crime and a violation of human rights that occurs in almost every country in the world. The United Nations defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation and harboring of people for the purpose of forced labor, prostitution, slavery or any other means of exploitation. Trafficking runs rampant in underdeveloped nations, highly militarized and war-torn states and countries without sufficient protection systems in place.

Current State of Human Trafficking in Eritrea

Eritrea is classified as a source country. This means that the majority of human trafficking in Eritrea happens within the country’s borders, mainly for forced domestic labor with sex and labor trafficking happening abroad to a lesser extent.

Most trafficking occurs inside Eritrea’s borders because citizens face “strict exit control procedures and limited access to passports and visas,” trapping them in the country or forcing citizens to flee to refugee camps where they have a high chance of getting kidnapped and returned. Kidnappers commonly try to coerce victims with a promise of reuniting families, food or shelter.

Sinai Desert Trafficking

Between 2006 and 2013, non-domestic human trafficking in Eritrea increased exponentially. Smugglers of neighboring countries were kidnapping Eritreans from refugee camps in order to hold them in the Sinai Desert for ransom. Victims often experienced extreme violence like torture, organ harvesting and rape. Of the estimated 25,000 to 30,000 victims of Sinai trafficking, estimates have determined that about 90% are Eritrean.

Current Protection in Place

According to the U.S. Department of State, the Eritrean government has not reported significant efforts to identify and protect human trafficking victims in the 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report: Eritrea.

The government has not reported any systems in place to protect victims and the Eritrean court used to only require perpetrators of human trafficking to pay restitution and/or fines, but now it offers jail time along with a fine of $1,330-$3,330. The government has not identified or persecuted any government officials of human trafficking but did arrest 44 military officials for conspiracy to commit trafficking crimes in 2015.

Prevention and Progress

The U.S. Department of State ranks Eritrea as a Tier 3 country in human trafficking matters meaning that it does not meet the minimum anti-trafficking standards and is not making an effort to do so. The government did not report any protection systems in place for trafficking victims, it does not provide services directly to victims and it does not show significant effort to create legislation to punish traffickers.

Even though the Eritrean government continues to subject its citizens to forced national service, in 2019, it increased international cooperation on human trafficking and similar matters. Officials were active in an international anti-trafficking workshop that created a regional and national level action plan to combat trafficking.

In the past decade, Europe has offered to reinstate aid to Eritrea to help stimulate the economy and reduce the number of people attempting to leave the country. Europe is a destination point for many migrants who stop through Sudan and Libya on the way, but many do not make it through due to the difficult journey.

More recently, the Eritrean government has been educating its citizens on the dangers of irregular migration and trafficking through events, posters, campaigns and conventions to hopefully prevent men, women and children from entering high-risk trafficking zones. This is one of the best things the government can do for its citizens as it better informs them of their surroundings on a day to day basis.

The U.S. Department of State has also recommended the continuation of anti-trafficking training to all levels of government, as well as the enforcement of limits on the length of mandatory national service for citizens and the enactment and enforcement of anti-trafficking laws that criminalize the act and prosecutes the perpetrators of human trafficking in Eritrea.

One of the most important ways to slow or stop human trafficking would be to end mandatory national service or impose strict time limits on such service. Many Eritreans attempt to flee or experience trafficking by military officials because they are in service for an indefinite amount of time with no way out. Once Eritrea begins to persecute any and all human traffickers and can break free from an authoritarian one-party political system, it can begin to be a safe country for its citizens.

 – Julia Ditmar
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in the Dominican Republic
Human trafficking is a crime that involves unfair labor practices and sexual misuse of adults and children. Human trafficking in the Dominican Republic is a big problem because of the popularity of the country as a tourist attraction. Some locals and foreign visitors look for the service of young women and children working in the area. A good number of women engaging in the activities are underage.

Female Victims of Human Trafficking

According to the 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Dominican Republic is a Tier 2 country which means that the country does not fully comply with the requirements to end trafficking. For the Dominican Republic to go above and meet the standards that the U.S. Department of State has set, the country must be more aggressive in its efforts to convict more traffickers. Police need more training regarding how to deal with trafficking and work with children on the street.

In the illegal trafficking business, women make up more than half of the slave population globally. Human trafficking in the Dominican Republic involves women who are the victims of abuse and neglect while engaging in sexual exploitation. Women and young girls are the victims of corrupt traffickers and corrupt authority figures in the Dominican Republic who side with the illegal trade and business.

Human Trafficking in the Dominican Republic

Victims of trafficking frequently look for opportunities to become financially independent and make money for themselves or to support their families. Depending on the situation, some victims do not come from the best living environments and want to escape their families.

To combat this, the Dominican Republic has implemented a national anti-trafficking plan. The first one emerged in 2003 followed by a nationwide plan in 2006. The country has seen some success in its efforts to bring justice ever since. For example, the Dominican Republic’s first maximum sentence sent a trafficker to prison for 25 years.

The International Justice Mission

The International Justice Mission (IJM) is an organization that focuses on human rights and law. The mission of the organization is to eradicate forced labor. IJM has worked successfully with the Dominican authorities by bringing justice to the country. A sense of normalcy and stability has returned by removing the criminals in the communities where they were working. IJM provides lawyers to build a case against traffickers that uses testimonies from survivors.

IJM saves victims of trafficking by cracking down on crimes and reporting them to the Dominican police. Additionally, it offers to help survivors find safe living spaces. The victims of these crimes suffer physically and psychologically. The psychological effects of such harm manifest in the long term in the form of mental health issues. IJM has treatment plans in place for government agencies and local organizations that address health, counseling and personal development measures.

Looking Forward

The Dominican Republic has implemented solutions to combat human trafficking in the Dominican Republic. Organizations like IJM are necessary to improve life for survivors of trafficking while making the communities that the crime of trafficking most affects better. Victories are emerging and the good news is that some progress is better than none at all.

– Amanda Ortiz
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Nepal
Millions of Nepalese citizens are at risk of becoming victims of the human trafficking trade every year. However, one can only estimate the statistically correct percentage of victims. Captivating International, a nonprofit based in Nepal, founded My Business-My Freedom in the hopes of fighting human trafficking in Nepal.

My Business-My Freedom

My Business-My Freedom is a micro-finance and education program helping Nepalese women achieve business success, self-sustainability and freedom. Beneficiaries include both women who are most at risk of becoming victims of trafficking and current rescued survivors of human trafficking in Nepal.

The organization estimates that a loan of $200 will help one woman start her business and that when she repays it, it will go to the next prospective business owner. Currently, 240 women living in Pokhara and Chitwan are immersed in the program with room to grow. The initiative plans to continue expanding into other regions and aiding around 1,000 women per year.

How does My Business-My Freedom Work?

The program leads each woman through the process of starting a business including ensuring that it is successful, well-funded and sustainable. The My Business-My Freedom program involves the following steps for prospective business owners:

  • Providing training about entrepreneurship and business opportunity.
  • Mentoring on money management, savings, budgeting and other basic business skills.
  • Connecting with other women in similar circumstances in order to create a sense of belonging and community.
  • A low-interest loan to start up the business: when it is paid, the owner is eligible to take future loans until it is no longer necessary.

Captivating International and COVID-19 Relief

In recent news, My Business-My Freedom partnered with 3 Angels Nepal to combat food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. The partnership accomplished this through checking in on women and families over the phone. If the women and their families were in need, the partnership made and delivered food relief packages to them. These packages included rice, dal, cooking oil, salt, soybeans and lentils.

The efforts of Captivating International and 3 Angels Nepal found that 30 women were in need, and provided them and their families with food. The latter organization also works on the ground by suspending loan payments and providing both phone support and food assistance.

Lowering Vulnerability Through Funding Successful Entrepreneurs

According to the Report of Armed Police Force of India, the number of Nepalese girls working in sex trafficking in India increased quite steadily from 2012 to 2017. Child trafficking is incredibly high as well. Captivating International, through My Business-My Freedom, is just one of the organizations working to eradicate human trafficking in Nepal. In covering a widening area of influence and contributing to building the economy, Captivating International is creating sustainability by increasing security and income for women. This, in turn, should help to alleviate the vulnerable populations that traffickers prey upon in Nepal.

Savannah Gardner
Photo: Flickr