As the UCLU Amnesty International Society gears up to host an anti human-trafficking/slavery stunt action on the 18th of February, I decided to explore this persisting problem and the victims who suffer at its hands.
Human trafficking is the practice of the forceful and highly illegal buying and selling or ‘trade’ of men, women and children. Victims are subsequently exploited; for their work and labour, the extraction of organs and tissue material. On top of this, women and girls are often sold into the ever-growing international sex trade.
Slavery is the grossly inhumane practice of detaining and exploiting people for economic purposes, and marks global history with a shameful legacy. However it is evident that it has not been confined to the ignorance of times gone by and currently there are a shocking 30 million victims, a figure that has been provided by the ‘notforsale’ campaign group. Additionally, according to figures gathered by the US Department of Health, trafficking is second in numbers to only drug dealing as the world’s largest criminal industry. These figures speak for themselves, highlighting the scope of a disgraceful practice that has now polluted every corner of the globe.
When the phrase ‘human trafficking’ is mentioned sex slavery is the first thing that is called to mind. Sadly, however, sexual abuse is only a portion of the problem. The clothes we wear and the food we eat could all have met with the hands of a victim of this trade in some stage of their production, as the eliciting of forced labour is a common end goal of the traffickers. These victims, whilst under the vigilant eye of the men and women who command them, suffer an invisible pain that is consistently overlooked, even as their work infiltrates the global market. The degradation and denial of basic rights they suffer is something that is slowly being exposed, through those who have escaped its clutches leading a fearless call for action.
There are indeed many who survive the brutality of the world of trafficking and wish to tell their tale for the benefit of others, in the hope that their stories can encourage widespread recognition of the cause and mobilisation to effectively work against it. One such case is that of 13-year-old Ghanaian Natalia, who was promised an education in the land of the free, the USA, only to be met with the exact opposite. The family she was made to live with sexually and physically abused the young girl, forcing her to work as a slave within their walls. Natalia, who escaped the family and ended up at a local hospital, informed a nurse of her plight whereupon she was referred to the Polaris Project who provided her with shelter and the chance of real future prospects, which she was at first falsely and cruelly promised.
Many other young girls and women are trafficked into a much wider network of sexual abuse and prostitution, such as native Moldovan Katya who was trafficked into the UK, discovered by the authorities and then transported back into the instability of the hometown from which she was taken. She was tracked back there by her former assailants, attacked and then trafficked once again into the UK. It was only after the second time that suitable action was taken to assure her future safety. Katya, who spoke to the Guardian newspaper in 2012, said that she did not resent the UK government or her assailants, but life itself.
This serves to highlight just how strong the impact of these ordeals is for the young men and women, who are forced to abandon their prospects and enter a life of bondage. As stories like these emerge, it is important to continue raising awareness, lobbying and pressuring authorities the world over to make significant changes concerning trafficking as quickly as possible.
For more information & stories on human trafficking and to find out how you can make an impact visit the Not For Sale Campaign.
For details on UCLU Amnesty’s action visit our facebook page.