by Bina Pattel
The 30th July is World Day against Trafficking in Persons and the United Nations have stated that this is ‘a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights.’
Human Trafficking is the world’s fastest growing global crime (1)
Call it Human Trafficking or Modern Day Slavery – both are the same and no different to what we all knew was Slavery back in the old days.
What does the dictionary have to say about the word Trafficking –
Deal or trade in something illegal (2)
How many of us can honestly say we are up to date with what is going on in our world?
How do we feel when we get to know that –
Slavery was not abolished but is still going on in our world today?
Slavery has existed throughout our history and what many of us think is that it has gone, but the Truth is we have it today under a different name – Human Trafficking or Trafficking in Persons.
So a slave is someone who is treated and owned like property and forced to work and obey for the benefit of their owner.
Google it and we can fight, campaign, sign a petition, join a movement, watch a film or fund raise and just about do what we want to try and stop human trafficking.
The truth is why has nothing worked so far and why are things getting worse?
Why do we have slavery in the 21st Century under a new name?
Did it really ever get truly abolished?
Who has the right to own a person like a piece of property?
Who has the authority to treat a person however they want?
Why do people want to control others against their will?
Why is Modern Day Slavery not making it to front page headlines?
Why are more people not aware of what is going on in our world?
Why have our governments not united on this and stamped it out?
Who actually gains from this inhumane act?
Why is Human Trafficking the fastest growing global crime?
Is this telling us that it is out of control and we don’t seem to have the answers?
Do we stop and ask why there is so much greed and corruption in our world?
Now check this stuff out –
Why is the 2016 Global Slavery Index saying around 46 million people are in some form of modern slavery across 167 countries? (7)
Again, is this the real scale of our fast growing international crime or is there more and we just don’t have the resources to investigate?
Stop the Traffik Organisation is saying that –
‘Due to the hidden and illegal nature of human trafficking, gathering statistics on the scale of the problem is difficult’. (1)
The truth is we cannot get precise amounts of this serious fast growing global crime.
Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime states –
‘It is clear that the reported numbers are only the tip of the iceberg’ (6)
We have a huge global crime today under our watch.
Is anyone interested?
Do we care or is this just too much?
Are these statistics a true account of what is really going on?
How accurate are these facts and figures that officials are quoting?
Do we feel helpless knowing the scale of the problem?
Are these just big numbers that mean nothing to us?
Where do these billions of dollars in profit end up?
Where do the lives of these victims end up?
How many of us even know about the TIP report?
Do we think we cannot make a difference as we don’t have the power to make changes?
Would it really bother us if it was our mother, sister, wife or daughter?
Why are most of us not concerned about how other fellow humans are treated?
What will it take for us to wake up and ask WHY is slavery such a massive industry today?
How do we feel about having our bricks made by young girls in Peru, who are forced to make them in extreme hot weather? (3)
How does it sound that debt bondage trap girls in Pakistan in carpet making factories? (3).
What is Debt Bondage? (8)
Bonded Labour is the most widespread, yet least known form of slavery in the World. This is where the person becomes a bonded labourer where their labour is demanded as a means of repayment of a loan. The person is trapped or tricked into working for little or no pay and the value of their work is usually greater than the original sum of money borrowed. Often debts are passed onto the next generations. Violence and threats can be used to make them stay.
Just in case we were not aware Bonded Labour has existed for hundreds of years and it is still around today.
We could go on but do we get what is going on and how things end up in our home?
Following the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, debt bondage was used to trap indentured labourers into working on plantations in Africa, the Caribbean and South-East Asia.
In Punjab region of India, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are forced to work as bonded labourers in quarries and brick kilns for little or no pay in return for a loan, usually for survival and medical costs.
The International Labour Organization estimate around 12 million people are in forced labour in the Asia-Pacific region of which the majority are in debt bondage. In this part of the world, bonded labour is rooted in the caste system and predominately affects the ‘untouchables’ which is the lowest caste.
Having grown up in an Indian caste system, I can say that it exists today and even those who are relatively poor, living in villages have slaves. It is widely accepted and they are most certainly not seen as equals. In fact they have such poor living conditions with much exposure to the sun, so they are have a darker skin colour than most and this further confirms the division.
‘Despite the fact that bonded labour is illegal, governments are rarely willing to enforce the law or to ensure that those who profit from it are punished.’ (8)
Please find the time to look at the video in this article as it really is SLAVERY AT SEA
Here are some highlights from this video –
This is a brutal transnational people trafficking industry
People are beaten to death
Deprived of adequate food and shelter
Rape and sexual violence are an everyday reality
Not given food or water whilst working
Healthy ones preferred as they can work harder, which means more money
If they cannot work, throw them into the sea
Can be 4 years on a boat and forced to work at sea
It is hard to find fish in the Gulf of Thailand
Boats are being converted to trafficking people as it is more money
Fishermen are increasingly turning to human trafficking as their ‘industry faces crisis’
‘The more people I bring, the more money I make’
‘You can make a lot of money from each trip and to be honest, I want to make money’ –
People trafficking generates three times more money than fish.
10 local boats can transport 12,000 migrants per month. This can generate up to $24 million in ransom payments.
Holding ships are used so people cannot escape. Some are ‘beaten until they could not breathe’.
Thai officials have sold thousands of people to human trafficking syndicates and this has been operating uninterrupted for years.
Investigations that have taken place by the government so far have not even scratched the surface – Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch.
‘Forced labour has become fundamental to the economic logic of the Thai seafood sector’
‘If you suddenly strip out forced labour an industry can fall apart and maybe it should’
Siddharth Kara – Programme on Human Trafficking, Harvard Kennedy School.
Rapid unregulated growth and decades of overfishing have left the industry on the brink of catastrophe.
This is only possible with the collusion of the authorities.
This has been going on since the 90’s in the Thai fishing sector.
This has involved the complicity and direct involvement of Thai officials including police and the military.
Do we stop and ask why there is so much greed and corruption in our world?
A multi billion dollar industry and do we care where our Thai prawns come from?
Or is the cheap price we pay worth others being treated as modern day slaves?
So we may think this is over there in another part of the world and not close to home.
Well check this link –
How ‘happy’ are our free-range eggs?
How free-range are the working conditions?
Is there any political agenda now that we know this company donates to a political party?
When a company has a name does it have a Responsbility to put that message across?
Are they showing us high moral principles and being honest, decent, ethical and reputable?
Is this type of ‘slave trade’ actually recorded onto statistics anywhere?
Why are there not more video clips available to alert us of what is really going on?
Trafficking in human beings is a similar route to that of illegal drugs. There is now a market for high quality forged documents in South Eastern Europe, as Migrant smuggling remains a high source of income for organised crime. (9)
Is this the licence to overseas Paedophilia that is under the radar?
Do we want to know the extent of the sex tourist industry?
Are we aware of the multi billion dollar commercial sex industry?
When did we agree to sex slavery being ok to continue?
The TIP report is also saying that not all countries have signed up to the Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (3). Why?
Why are ALL our nations not uniting and saying NO to Modern Day Slavery?
What is the 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons saying? (6)
More than 90% of countries have legislation criminalizing human trafficking since the Protocol.
Not all countries have signed.
Why does the legislation not always comply with the Protocol?
Why does the legislation not cover all forms of trafficking?
Why does implementation of legislation when enacted, often fall short?
In 128 countries covered in this report 15% did not even record a single conviction (6)
Is anyone asking WHY?
Is this an accurate statement?
Why has the number of convictions globally remained extremely low?
Who benefits and who stands to gain here?
Next – so what is the National Crime Agency saying in the UK? (10)
‘Human trafficking is the movement of a person from one place to another into conditions of exploitation, using deception, coercion, the abuse of power or the abuse of someone’s vulnerability’.
Some of the categories of exploitation they mention on their website include:
- Sexual Exploitation
- Forced Labour
- Domestic Servitude
- Organ Harvesting
- Child Trafficking
Of course there are more like forced marriage and forced illegal adoption.
‘Trafficking affects every continent and most countries’ (11)
Next – The Palermo Protocol breaks trafficking down into 3 elements: (12)
- The Act – what is done
‘Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons’
- The Means – how it is done
‘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’
- The Purpose – why it is done
For the purpose of Exploitation which includes 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’
The USA call it the AMP Model and say there has to be a minimum of one element from each to establish a potential situation of human trafficking. (13)
So force, control and abuse of power is not enough as it does not fit the rules.
Is this actually going to change anything as there are so many loopholes within this law?
How is this law going to end this inhumane way of treating our fellow brothers on earth?
Please go back and read the above 3 points.
What are we going to do now that we KNOW what human trafficking is doing to our people?
UNODC state that human trafficking is one of the largest sources of income for organised crime.
- Where is all this crime money going?
- Who benefits?
- At what cost?
Do our research studies show the real statistics of human trafficking?
Do we have the black market numbers – in other words the underworld trafficking?
What is this insatiable demand that Andrew Wallis (Founder, Unseen) is saying? (14)
Human trafficking is a criminal industry based on the principles of supply and demand.
So here we have a market that is driven at the cost of human lives.
The demand is fuelled by cheap goods, cheap services and cheap labour.
We have an endless supply of vulnerable people available, so here we have big business.
The overall market incentives of high profit and low risk can be exploited by human traffickers.
High Profits – When people are willing to buy commercial sex, this creates a ‘market’ that makes it profitable for traffickers to sexually exploit children and adults. When we, the consumer are willing to buy cheap goods and services from industries that rely on forced labour, we create a profit incentive so labour traffickers can then maximise revenue with minimal production costs. (13)
Low Risk – People traffickers believe that the low risk of detection is worth the high profit margins. They perceive there to be little risk or deterrence to affect their criminal operations. What further supports this criminal activity is ineffective or unused law, lack of law enforcement investigation, lack of government and law enforcement training, limited resources for victim recovery services and social blaming of victims. (13)
So this means that there are substantial monetary gains with a low risk of getting caught.
Who is making the profits?
At what cost to human lives?
Are we robbing children of their natural right to grow up without slavery?
Are we imposing our demands because we simply can?
Is this money making business going to last?
What is it going to take to see real lasting change?
Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights say –
‘No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.’ (15)
This is great news but why is it not taken seriously by all people and our governments?
WHAT IS MISSING HERE?
Interesting that the UK wake up to the horror of modern day slavery in 2004 when 23 Chinese slaves drowned at sea and then we have the UK Modern Slavery Act in 2015 (16).
We should all be asking – what happened for the 11 years before the Act came out?
Yes, we have more awareness now about Modern Day Slavery but this crime continues to go under reported.
- Is it because of its hidden nature and misconceptions around its actual definition?
- Is it because we are not clued up and cannot spot the signs?
- Is it because the laws are full of holes?
- Is it because the task of dealing with this mess is too big for our government priority?
There is plenty more to report, but this is enough for a blog to bring about awareness on a much needed worldwide problem.
How do we end Human Trafficking?
Is there a simple answer?
- Could it be possible that we are putting profits before people?
- Could it be possible that self gain is at the top of the agenda?
- Could it be possible we do not see ALL other human beings on earth as EQUALS?
- Could it be possible that our drive for money is greater than human life?
- Could it be possible there will be no true change until we get to the root cause?
- Could it be possible that in Truth we are seeking something outside of ourselves?
In other words – are we avoiding our true relationship with our self and in that dis-connection, we create a void which needs to be filled at whatever cost – in this case the lives of others.
Is this understanding simple enough and could it apply to other global issues like drugs?
Modern Day Slavery Helpline
For help, information and advice on Modern Day Slavery
Tel: 08000 121 700
In a crisis contact your emergency services.
(1) (2016). Stop the Traffik
(2) Concise Oxford English Dictionary – Twelfth Edition. Oxford University Press. 2011
(3) Department of State. United States of America. Trafficking in Persons Report. June 2016 (p.11, p.19, p.27 and pp.57-62)
(4) (2016) Forced Labour, Human Trafficking and Slavery. International Labour Organization (ILO)
(5) (2016) Infographic: A Global Look at Human Trafficking. UNICEF
(6) United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. (p.1, p.5 and p.9). New York, 2014
(7) (2016) The Global Slavery Index
(8) (n.d). Bonded Labour
(9) (UNODC). UNODC South Eastern Europe on Illicit Trafficking
(10) (n.d). Human Trafficking. National Crime Agency
(11) (2013). Facts About Trafficking. Croydon Community Against Trafficking
(12) (2015). The Definition of Trafficking. ECPAT UK
(13) (n.d). Human Trafficking. National Human Trafficking Resource Center
(14) Townsend, M. (2016, July 10). Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking
(15) (1948, December 10). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. United Nations
(16) (n.d). Anti Slavery Day.