The trouble with girls

Hey there blogophiles!

How are you today? I’m quite happy really because it’s my birthday! Although I’m afraid this is going to be a pretty somber post.

Today I’m going to look at some of the reasons why women and girls are especially vulnerable to trafficking. It is estimated that around 80% of all human trafficking victims are female, and that 48% of all trafficking victims are under 18. So what’s the deal? Why are girls so acutely vulnerable? Well, I believe that there are three overarching factors at play which combine to create this unique vulnerability.

Firstly, there are structural causes; this is things like the position of women in relation to men in a society, poverty levels in a country, overall levels of girls education across a society, the strength of female representation in government and all those things which arrive from the structures of a country. But what does this mean in practice? Well, across the globe, in poor and impoverished countries, girls and women and the least likely to receive an education. In fact, across the world 66% of illiterate adults are female. Without an education – without being able to read and write even – how can women get jobs to gain independence and / or support their families? Offering a decent education to girls is absolutely paramount in the fight against human trafficking (as an aside, STOP THE TRAFFIK are just discussing how to promote girls education as a campaign strategy – watch this space).

Additionally, if a family can only send one child to school, it is the son. Picture a poor rural farming community in Rumania, Nigeria or Nepal. If there are children in the family – lets say a son and a daughter, where the son is educated and the daughter is not, who has the better earning potential? If that family is approached by man from another village offering “an excellent job in the city for your daughter! she can waitress at my uncle’s place so it doesn’t matter that she can’t read very well. She will make good money and be able to send some of it back to you”  … what do you think would happen?

In a situation of poverty, such an offer is extremely tempting. For a waitress job, a father will not send his son who can both help around the farm or use his education to get better paying jobs.

Additionally, there are countries and in fact most cultures in the world where women are still more readily viewed as objects and / or property leading to massive gender inequalities. Girls are easier seen as commodities.

Combine cultural and societal values of women with poverty and lack of education, you can see how the structures of a society leave women at great risk of trafficking. Also you can see why women are most at risk in the countries affected by low socio-economic developments.

 

Secondly, is the global demand for women. Trafficking into the sex and marriage industries is by far the most common form of human trafficking. The global desire to purchase sex means that there needs to be a constant supply of new women into the multi-billion dollar sex industry. It is estimated that around 80% of all human trafficking is for sexual exploitation; from the brothels of Mayfair to the slums of Mumbai.

 

Thirdly are physical issues. Whilst there is a huge number of men trafficked worldwide, this is dwarfed by the number of women. Whilst coercion is certainly a method used to control the victims of trafficking, force and the threat of force is a major means employed by traffickers. Simply put, if needs be a man can generally physically dominate a woman.

 

So, there in a nut shell are my thoughts on why women are especially vulnerable to human trafficking. In situations of poverty, where women are viewed as ‘lesser’ than men, and where trafficking networks are well established, girls are both easier to traffik in the first place, more in demand and, once trafficked, easier to control.

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