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The Problem of Human Trafficking

6 December, 2014

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Last month we were looking at the hard numbers presented by the Global Slavery Index. Millions of people enslaved by their own kind, all over the world. Many of us who do not face this issue in our day to day lives may not be bothered. After all, we are not part of it. So why should we think about, or have an opinion on the issue of human trafficking? Let us try to understand human trafficking better.

In this article, the term "we" and "us" are used to represent the society and the concerned organizations collectively, not just Purnata and its supporters.

As with any serious matter, human trafficking has a definition. According to the UN,

“Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

Now that's quite descriptive. Human Trafficking is a disrespect to the social structures in the modern times. It is a crime. This document that contains this definition is titled "United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime And The Protocols Thereto". You can find more detailed information across the Internet. Only if we care to search, and study.

As with any other social issues or criminal activities, the awareness plays a very important role in dealing with human trafficking. One will not be able to deal with such issues single-handedly - not one person, not an organization, not a political party. It requires to be known, understood and condemned by the masses. The more we learn about the issue of human trafficking, and most importantly the issues that are the root of trafficking activities, the better we can respond and prevent.

There are various approaches in dealing with human trafficking. Initially the activities were focused on rescue, rehabilitation and restoration. But this is a very reactive approach. In this approach we do not deal with trafficking as an issue, but to alleviate the effects of trafficking on the victims. It is necessary, but does not address the issue directly.

Another approach is to deal with the economics of human trafficking. As in any other industry, human trafficking exist and operate for economic reasons - primarily for the benefit of culprits. And to paralyze any economic machinery, we need to either reduce the supply or reduce the demand. Reducing the supply would probably make the economic benefits more attractive, and the operation more riskier. However reducing the demand would render the supply useless and slowly kill the system. The approach to "end demand" has been found quite effective in many areas, especially in sex trafficking.

A third approach is to address the root causes of human trafficking. The root causes vary widely - including social, economic, commercial, geo-political, cultural, or even supernatural reasons. The root causes are often very contextual - to the source area of trafficking. It could be poverty, gender discrimination, displacements due to natural disasters, lack of education or awareness, and many such factors.

For all these, we need to stress the importance of awareness among the general public. We would then be sensitive, and observant to the human trafficking issues around us. The issue of human trafficking is all around us - in the form of sex trafficking, kidnaps, child labour, forced labour across cities and countries. The more we learn, the more we talk the issue would enjoy the mindshare of the society, media and most importantly the authorities, which can make a huge difference in our fight against human trafficking.


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