Last week, motivated by the opening chapter of Steve Chalke’s STOP THE TRAFFIK book, I explored human trafficking in relation to the numerous ways this breaches the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In spite of this document, and over eighty international conventions released throughout the last two centuries aiming to tackle human trafficking, humans continue to be bought and sold.
This week my attention turns to the equally compelling second chapter of the book, written for us by Cherie Blair. This focuses on the experiences of women in trafficking…..
One of our previous blogs already explored the factors that contribute towards women’s unique vulnerability to the abuse of traffickers. Women in many countries and cultures are excluded from educational opportunities, marginalised from the job market, and denied access to information and support. Shockingly, 70% of the world’s poor are said to be female. It is undeniable that the factors which can be seen as facilitating vulnerability to trafficking are linked to gender. Furthermore, some research looked at in the book suggests that the majority of girls and women who have been trafficked into Europe were abused prior to being trafficked when they were children, either by members of their family or local community (see p28). These individuals may become ‘easy prey’ because the desperation to escape; and inefficient legal systems, attitudes of tolerance towards domestic abuse and lack of support systems, can all become push factors towards feelings of despair and the need to get away, whatever the risk, even if that means trusting a stranger’s offer of a job…
Cherie Blair draws attention to the fact that in the world’s parliaments there are five men for every woman. I find this quite disturbing.
I had a look at the UN’s ‘Global Report on Trafficking in Persons’, launched in February of this year (http://www.unodc.org/documents/Global_Report_on_TIP.pdf), to bring some light to the role that women play in trafficking…
Whilst really awful, it may not surprise you to read that in the sixty-one countries that the UN looks at 66% of trafficking victims identified were women, and 13% were girls. What may however alarm you is that women also make up the majority of traffickers in almost a third of the 155 nations that the U.N. surveyed. In Europe women make up a larger share of those convicted for human trafficking offences than for most other forms of crime, and in Central Asia women account for more than 60% of the human trafficking convictions! So other than a complete overload of statistics – what is this really telling us?
This is telling us that the perceptions and ideas that we may hold of typical perpetrators may need re-thinking; a task which will help us in identifying traffickers, and also avoiding situations that may lead to abuse. The UN report stresses that in some areas of the world women trafficking women is actually ‘the norm’, with some victims occasionally going on to become perpetrators.
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan once stated ‘there is no evil so entrenched that it cannot be eradicated…let us fight against exploitation and oppression and stand up for freedom and human dignity.’ In order to identify, confront, and eradicate trafficking effectively we need to challenge the false perceptions we may unconsciously hold. The sort of action and awareness activities that our ACT groups are engaging in, and the efforts of all the schools out there signing up to our START FREEDOM campaign are doing an excellent job in the task of increasing understanding about human trafficking – keep up the good work!