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human trafficking in TanzaniaEvery year, millions of men, women and children are trafficked worldwide. Forced labor, sexual exploitation and debt bondage are the most common reasons for this crime. Human trafficking happens in every country, even developed ones like the United States. Trafficking is modern-day slavery and affects women and girls disproportionately. About 71% of trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls. Profits reach around $150 billion per year for traffickers globally, with $99 billion of that earned through commercial sexual exploitation. Experts believe 20-40 million people are in modern slavery, but the number is hard to estimate because many cases go undetected. Human trafficking in Tanzania is a current problem in the country, but there is hope for improvement.

Victims of Human Trafficking in Tanzania

The country reported that it was able to identify 165 potential victims of human trafficking in Tanzania in the most recent reporting period, compared to 161 in the previous reporting period and 13 in the period before that. About 90% of the victims in those periods have been female, a population particularly vulnerable to trafficking.

Efforts Against Human Trafficking In Tanzania

Tanzania is currently classified as a Tier 2 Watch List country in terms of human trafficking. This means it is failing to meet minimum standards for preventing human trafficking but is nonetheless making a diligent effort. For example, it has increased funding for its national anti-trafficking committee and its victim assistance fund.

However, Tanzania’s recent efforts have been disappointing compared to those of previous years. Charges and punishments have remained light for traffickers compared to perpetrators of other major crimes. Many traffickers are not convicted, and if they are, their punishments are fines and short prison sentences. The country has not implemented victim identification or protection programs, leaving victims vulnerable to further exploitation. Tanzania has also made no recent efforts toward investigating fraudulent labor groups or commercial sex acts.

These lapses would typically result in regression to a Tier 3 country. However, Tanzania is working to conform to the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The guidelines of this act, when implemented, will allow the country to meet minimum trafficking prevention standards. As it stands, Tanzania remains on the Tier 2 Watch List for the third year in a row.

Hope for the Future

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act involves many measures to protect victims with the support of trained workers. Trained workers will be able to identify the country’s more vulnerable populations, including orphans and impoverished children. In line with a Tanzanian anti-trafficking law from 2008, identified victims of human trafficking in Tanzania also receive professional counseling and a place to stay for the period immediately after their escape from a trafficking situation.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act also involves more investigation of traffickers and corrupt systems. It will increase the likelihood of proper punishment for traffickers and will replace small fines with larger penalties befitting the seriousness of the crime. Tanzania saw great improvements in its trafficking situation before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, giving hope for the upcoming reporting periods.

– Haleigh Kierman
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Hong KongHuman trafficking is a persistent problem all around the world, including in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region located in the People’s Republic of China. The Justice Centre Hong Kong produced a study in 2016 on human trafficking in Hong Kong and it was found that one in six of the 370,000 migrant workers in the city were forced labor victims. While Hong Kong does take steps to eradicate human trafficking, it is important to study human trafficking in every region of the world so that it can be prevented in the future.

Recent Changes and Legislation

Lawmakers in Hong Kong proposed that the government pass an anti-slavery bill based on Great Britain’s “Modern Slavery Act.” However, two of those lawmakers, Dennis Kwok and Kenneth Leung, were removed from Parliament, leaving many questioning whether the bill would ever get passed. A member of The Mekong Club, a group in Hong Kong dedicated to fighting modern slavery said, “There is little chance that this important bill will move forward.” This, in conjunction with the current protests in Hong Kong likely means that lawmakers have had little time to focus on anti-human trafficking legislation.

Another recent development on human trafficking in the nation is that in mid-2020 the U.S. demoted Hong Kong from Tier 2 on the Trafficking in Persons Report to Tier 2 Watch List, suggesting that Hong Kong “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.” The government of Hong Kong disputed the U.S. human trafficking report’s claims, arguing that the report was not based on evidence and looks at minor flaws rather than the big picture.

Hong Kong’s Approach to Resolving Human Trafficking

One problem with the nation’s current anti-human trafficking legislation is that the city only defines human trafficking as “involving cross-border sex trafficking for prostitution,” which means the legislation does not cover “labor exploitation, debt bondage, domestic servitude or similar practices.” Unfortunately, the legal system can make it difficult for those who are trafficked in Hong Kong to get the help they need or support from legal authorities.

While anti-human trafficking laws could be amended, lawmakers and academics have shown there are creative solutions to the problem. Reed Smooth Richards Butler, a law firm, worked with Liberty Asia, an anti-slavery charity, to create the Legal Gap Analysis report, which explains how other laws can be used to persecute human traffickers. For example, individuals responsible could be arrested for false imprisonment rather than human trafficking directly. Creative efforts like these are important to find solutions to salient issues, including the trafficking of people.

Protecting Human Rights

While the government can certainly improve its response to human trafficking in Hong Kong, the country has implemented many measures to help reduce human trafficking and protect human rights. Human trafficking needs addressing and analyzing the nuances in human trafficking policy can help incapacitate the industry globally.

Madelynn Einhorn
Photo: Flickr