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Human trafficking is, unfortunately, big business. According to a 2011 report titled “Transnational Crime in the Developing World” by James Haken, it is a $32 billion annual business. The FBI states human sex trafficking alone is the third largest criminal enterprise in the world. Thus, combating such an industry is a serious challenge. There are many anti-slavery advocacy groups, fundraising campaigns, and sectors of law enforcement around the world.

However, Tim Waldron, UK anti-slavery organization Love146’s chief executive, reports that lack of collaboration among such groups makes implementing change extremely challenging. He says, “The problem is that modern-day slavery is a labor issue, it’s a human rights issue, a migration issue, a criminal issue, and work on this extends from front-line rescue operations through to high-level political lobbying, campaigning and coordinating with partners working in often incredibly dangerous and tense environments around the world.”

Unsurprisingly, different agencies and organizations have a hard time agreeing on who can do what best. Roger Plant, the head of the International Labour Organisation, says that jealousy and infighting often cause agencies to “trip over each other” and needlessly duplicate efforts.

However, recently there have been gains in collaboration. Groups like The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), The Child Labour Coalition, and the Cotton Campaign have all been lauded for their inter-organizational coordination. ATEST is actually a group of 12 United States organizations that worked together to push the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 through the Senate.

Thankfully, organizations dedicated to fighting modern slavery are starting to take note of their deficiencies in this area. With the welfare of millions of men, women, and children at stake, fighting slavery has never been more important.

– Samantha Mauney

Source: The Guardian
Photo: Release

 un
At the UN General Assembly meeting Monday, UN Officials urged those in attendance to continue to work towards “full implementation” of major anti-human trafficking treaties. The treaties are central in the fight against the US$32 billion global human trafficking industry.  Global estimates of those in forced labor, sexual prostitution, and military labor range from 2.4 million to 27 million. Regardless of the numbers, the industry will continue to grow without support and implementation from UN member countries.

Vuk Jeremic, General Assembly president, opened the two day UN conference aimed at improving coordination among nations in the fight against human trafficking.  When talking about stopping the crime of human trafficking and helping victims rebuild their lives, he said “no effort must be spared.”  We must increase our attention to the matter and collaborate to fight against human trafficking.  Increased sensitivity and awareness training for law enforcement, border control, embassy officials, and peacekeepers is one such area where coordination must be improved.

The two-day meeting will also serve to provide an update on the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.  The plan was adopted in 2010 and includes measures for integrating the fight against human trafficking into broader programs within the UN as well as increasing development and security globally.  Discussions throughout the meeting built upon the plan and addressed preventing human trafficking, prosecuting offenders, protecting victims, and forming partnerships to fight human trafficking. The Plan also set up the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons. Jeremic requested member countries to provide greater support for the fund.

With almost a third of victims worldwide identified as children, the need for greater collaboration is great. Awareness on the part of government officials, humanitarian organizations, and citizens is necessary to continue in the fight against human trafficking. The UN conference is a huge step in this direction.

– Amanda Kloeppel
 Source: National News Agency of Malaysia
Photo: UN

Ed Royce
 “Trafficking in persons is a grievous offense against human dignity that impacts every country on earth, and disproportionately victimizes girls and children.” – Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce opened a hearing on human trafficking on May 7th, 2013. The hearing will discuss local and private sector initiatives to combat human trafficking.  Modern-day slavery, human trafficking is a growing global crime.

One of the things society must wrestle with is how the vulnerable are treated and protected as well as what their responsibility is in coming to the aid of the exploited. Human trafficking exists in every nation worldwide and targets women and children in disproportionate amounts.  Numbers indicate over 20 million victims of forced labor and forced sex work worldwide. However, bigger than the numbers are the faces and stories of the victims, largely children, who have been stripped of their hope, innocence, and youth.

Chairman Royce’s Chief of Staff, Amy Porter, spent time in India and Cambodia serving victims of human trafficking. She recounts girls as young as 3 years old in awful, disgusting situations. Closer to home, it is estimated that 100,000 children in the US are victims of human trafficking.  The Foreign Affairs Committee has worked tirelessly to get human trafficking on the minds of Congress and will continue to work hard to make the issue an urgent and pressing one in the coming weeks and years.

The hearing will look at some of the promising private sector and community partnerships going on worldwide and the implications of those innovative partnerships in eradicating human trafficking. The tools that are being developed and the relationships established on the local, community level may just be the answer to fighting human trafficking worldwide.

Videos of the Question and Answer session as well as the opening statement can be found here.

– Amanda Kloeppel

Source: House Foreign Affairs Committee
Photo: Jewish Journal

The Backstory

An anti-slavery campaign called The Backstory has been launched by MTV. Inspired by the winning entry of mtvU’s “Against Our Will” project, the campaign will feature an interactive website with dance videos showing how women and immigrants are trafficked into prostitution and forced labor. The project is focused at demonstrating how trafficking is an issue that can strike anyone and what can be done to counter it.

Collaborating with the anti-slavery campaign are rapper Talib Kweli and dancers from Ailey II. “Ailey II is honored to provide the visual embodiment of these powerful back stories of human labor and sex trafficking,” said Troy Powell, Ailey II’s artistic director. “This is the first time we have participated in an effort such as this one, and it is rewarding to be able to bring awareness to such a worthy cause.”

The winning entry of mtvU’s “Against Our Will” project came from four students at James Madison University. The goal of the project was to find an innovative way to utilize the internet to bring awareness to modern-day slavery. Anti-human trafficking organizations working alongside the “Against Our Will” anti-slavery campaign include the Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, and Girls Educational and Mentoring Services.

“We hope to move viewers to take action and share what they have learned with their friends and networks,” added Powell.

Rafael Panlilio

Source: CNNMTV