October 18, 2018
Today is Anti Slavery Day in the UK, a day that raises awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking. Not confined to the UK, human trafficking and modern slavery are issues that affect every country, gender, age group and social background, with victims identified in the UK alone being from 81 countries according to the most recent National Referral Mechanism reports. Exploitation, in all its forms, is affected by many factors, including; gender inequalities and violence, discrimination, consumer demands, poverty, cultural or societal constructs, access to education and employment opportunities, corruption, conflict, migration, disaster events, and economic conditions. As these influences can vary greatly between regions and countries, research, responses, and prevention measures require a more nuanced approach, in order to address the unique sets of challenges that these factors create.
A country’s specific problem requires a specific response. For example, a 2016 UNODC report estimates that children count for around 20% of the global number of slavery victims, however, children made up 62% of all trafficking victims throughout the Caribbean and Central America, and in Sub-Saharan Africa children make up to 64% of trafficking victims. Therefore, initiatives on prevention need to have a focus on why this is the case in these areas, as opposed to somewhere like North America, where adults make up the majority of victims.
Similarly, whilst sexual exploitation remains the primary form of human trafficking generally, forced labour has become the predominant form within Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
One of the most common forms of human trafficking in Nepal is the thousands of Nepalese nationals working in foreign countries, often through recruitment agencies who charge exorbitant and illegal fees to those who often end up trapped in sex trafficking or exploited in labour. With up to 32% of Nepal’s GDP coming from workers sending money home, this avenue for potential abuse will no doubt remain an issue as individuals search for economic opportunities outside of Nepal. In Syria however, a recurrent problem is that child soldiers continue to be recruited or forcibly conscripted, a product of the poverty and chaos created by the ongoing conflict. Both of these require a specific set of measures to combat the elements that create these particular issues.
Collaboration is also critical in any response measures, as human trafficking reaches across state lines, territories and continents. A documentary released this year detailed the number of North Koreans trapped in state-sponsored forced labour, predominantly in Poland, China and Russia, which served to highlight the importance of developing meaningful partnerships and cooperation in combating this issue globally.
Previous posts on our website highlight the links between disasters and exploitation, the effect of disaster related migration on trafficking, and why this issue needs to be addressed better by the wider humanitarian and disaster response communities, especially for the sake of children and women - statistically the most affected by this crime, as well as the importance of tailored initiatives in this area.