Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

Opinion by Yumnah Jones

Globally, it is estimated that 40.3 million individuals have been trafficked and this number is only increasing. Human trafficking is a multibillion-dollar industry that no person is immune to. It is neutral to gender, class, age, race and nationality. It can happen to anyone but since it is hidden in nature, many think that because they do not see it, that they will not feel it.

With poor political will, widespread corruption, porous borders, disunity between African countries and structured underground networks, the African continent is most susceptible to human trafficking because within a poverty stricken and politically unstable climate, the economic benefits of sourcing victims outweighs the risk of being caught.

By the time their secret movements are traced, the victims are missing, which in effect means, the evidence is gone, leaving no room for the prosecution of traffickers and thus, perpetuating the cycle of the recruitment and exploitation of human trafficking victims through coercion, deception and force.

Of the 40.3 million victims trafficked Worldwide, 30.2 million are aged 18 years and older and 10.1 million are below the age of 18. While 40.3 million people are trafficked globally, Africa accounts for 23% of this global population, with 9.24 million Africans being trafficked from or within the borders of Africa.

Human trafficking in Africa is synonymous to modern-day slavery for the purpose of sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced marriages, farm labour and ritual sacrifices. Armed conflict exacerbates trafficking of orphaned children, as child soldiers, since they are easily influenced and dispensable.

Extreme poverty results in poor parents sending their children off with trusted individuals to either generate an income for the family or to receive an education that they cannot provide their own children.

High unemployment rates enable traffickers to make “job offers” to individuals seeking job opportunities and access to a better life elsewhere. Victims are often recruited through known or trusted familial, religious or other social networks, which means that traffickers could be anyone they thought they could trust such as a friend, family member, acquaintance or other.

According to the 2019 Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report, which monitors each countries fight against human trafficking through its compliance to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), it has been ascertained that countries within the African continent has Tier 2, Tier 2 Watchlist and Tier 3 rankings.

Although a Tier 1 ranking does not mean that a country has no human trafficking issues or that the respective country is doing enough to combat human trafficking, Tier 2 to Tier 3 indicates that governments of African countries do not fully comply to the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. While some African countries are making significant progress (Tier 2 and Tier 2 Watchlist), other African countries do not comply nor are they making effort to combat human trafficking (Tier 3).

While human trafficking is flourishing in Africa due to widespread corruption and lack of effective legislation, there are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and anti-trafficking units such as Love Justice, A21, The Salvation Army, Awareness Against Human Trafficking (HAART) and Devatop Centre for Africa Development that are fighting human trafficking in Africa and the wider World. While some seek to create public awareness about human trafficking, others execute underground work such as transit monitoring to intercept rather than combat human trafficking.

Since human trafficking is a human security issue and an organized crime, the importance of public awareness is crucial to intercepting, combating and minimizing the human trafficking statistic. While there may be non-governmental and governmental organizations fighting human trafficking, it is important to realize that fighting human trafficking is a collaborative effort.

Hence, the onus lies on us as human beings to be aware of our surroundings and cognizant of movements on main streets, little corners and our own backyards. We need to become aware of human trafficking indicators to be able to identify potential victims.

We need to be aware of which organizations to report to or how to respond to emergency situations of potential victims. We need to become informed and we need to inform others. Human trafficking can happen at any given moment because traffickers are always on the lookout for targets, known or unknown to them.

It can happen when you are shopping out with your children, when travelling together or solo, when on route to and from a common destination. It can happen when you live alone or when you hang out at your regular spots.

It happens when we create a pattern of movements that traffickers can use against us whether it be through social media or in our everyday lives. We always need to be vigilant, we always need to touch base with our loved ones and we should never post our locations to social media platforms while we are there.

Since most African countries are source, transit and destination countries for human trafficking, somewhere in your current vicinity, there is someone who is a victim of human trafficking or who is being targeted for human trafficking and that person could be you.

In the words of Samira Bawumia, “We can only succeed if we work together. No government under the sun can win this fight alone no matter how resourceful and committed it is. The civil society or non-governmental organizations cannot succeed in this fight alone no matter how passionate and equipped they are. We need to work together. Let’s see each other as partners in the fight and not competitors fighting for glory.”

Article from: