Human trafficking has rightly been termed modern slavery. According to the United Nations estimates, today there are at least 12 million people worldwide who are victims of trafficking.
The Ninth Annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) released by the US State Department in June shows that UK is both a destination and a transit country for women, children, and men trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor.
The victims also include UK-resident children who are sadly trafficked within the country. Migrants are trafficked to the UK for forced labor in agriculture, construction, food processing, domestic servitude, and food services, the report shows, while many women are trafficked for sexual exploitation.
Unaccompanied foreign children are trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor.
Some 70 percent of the 88,000 women involved in prostitution in England and Wales are under the control of traffickers, according to the London police estimates.
The Ninth Annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) also shows that global economic crisis has made people more vulnerable to human trafficking. This is a very serious problem that must be fought using all means.
Unfortunately, most of the time, we think this should only be done by the authorities. We also ignore the problem whenever we notice it, thinking that is not our problem. But it is. We can’t continue ignoring the suffering of these people who are desperately in need of our help.
Victims of human trafficking live in extreme fear, most of the time they can’t openly seek help. It is upon each one of us to notice those around us who may need help and do something. We must make the first move.
Human trafficking thrives because most of us decide to remain silent when we meet the victims. For instance, men who go with prostitutes everyday meet victims of human trafficking and forced prostitution. If they just open their eyes and ears, they can easily detect that the people they assume to be having fun with are desperately in need of help to escape from their exploiters. Clients are best placed to save these slaves because of privileged access they have to them.
We should all pay special attention to all the people we meet, those who live in our neighbourhood, those we work with, etc. Human trafficking victims are right there, before us. Many of them don’t know how and where to seek help. Many think there is no way out. Let’s help them free themselves from this slavery. Let’s collaborate with authorities in eliminating this menace from our society. If you suspect that anyone you meet could be a victim, please inform authorities. Trust your instinct, it could save life.
By Stephen Ogongo Ongong’a