Today is the world day against trafficking in persons. It is observed on July 30 every year in order to raise awareness about the condition of victims of human trafficking and to promote and protect their rights.
According to the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Ghada Waly, the illicit trade of human lives is happening right under our noses every day. It is primarily affecting the lives of millions of women and children.
“Today, human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world.
Sexual exploitation, forced labour and illegal organ trafficking are the hallmarks of an industry worth $150 billion dollars per year.
“One fifth of the world’s estimated 60 million modern day slaves are children. And even as the COVOD-19 pandemic rages on, this sinister business has begun to adapt.
“Criminals are adjusting their business models to the ‘new normal’, especially through the abuse of modern technologies”.
“According to UN independent rights experts, travel restrictions have spawned new ways to sexually exploit and abuse children, such as attempts to establish “delivery” or “drive-thru” services. There has also been a spike in people trying to access illegal websites featuring child pornography.
“COVID-19 has impacted the ability of state authorities and non-governmental organizations to provide essential services to the victims of this crime.
“To defeat Covid19, some countries have diverted resources meant for fighting crime. Services to assist trafficking victims are being reduced or even shut down.
“Most importantly, the pandemic has exacerbated the entrenched economic and societal inequalities that are among the root causes of human trafficking”.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations includes goal 8.7: to take immediate and effective measures to end human trafficking, and the use of child soldiers and labour.
The Global Sustainability Network was formed to help achieve this goal. With over 1200 members it is actively working to combine efforts of individuals, governments and international organizations to combat human trafficking.
This year, World Day Against Trafficking in Persons will focus on the first responders to human trafficking.
These are the people who work on identifying, supporting, counselling and seeking justice for victims of trafficking.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the essential role of first responders has become more important, as pandemic restrictions have made their jobs even more difficult.