Victims’ Voices Lead the Way
“Dare to enter the darkness to bring another into the light.”
– Tony Kirwan, Destiny Rescue Founder & International President
Human trafficking, the modern-day version of slavery, is a global crisis that is so pervasive and often under-recognized in most places. It affects nearly every country in the world; whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims.
In 2013, the UN General Assembly designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons and declared that such a day was necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.” The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has been assisting many non-governmental organizations in their fight against human trafficking.
While sex trafficking and forced labor are the most common types of trafficking, it exists in other forms too. Victims are also trafficked and exploited for benefit fraud, as beggars, for forced or fake marriages, in pornography production and for organ harvesting. We must realize that these victims of trafficking might be building our homes, working as domestic helps, serving in restaurants or working in factories. They are present in our everyday lives, but remain hidden in plain sight due to lack of reporting in most cases.
Human trafficking disproportionately affects women and children, with more than 70% of trafficking cases involving women and girls and more than 90% of victims trafficked into the sex industry.
The theme designated for World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2021 is ‘Victims’ Voices Lead the Way’, which puts the victims at the focus of the campaign and highlights the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking. The campaign portrays survivors as key actors in the fight against human trafficking and focuses on the crucial role they play in establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identify and rescue victims and support them on their road to rehabilitation. Learning from victims’ experiences and turning their suggestions into actions can lead to a more sensitive and effective approach in tackling human trafficking.
The basic fact is that trafficking ultimately exists because people are willing to exploit others into trafficking situations. Beyond factors like cultural practices, lack of education, the profit from the business, vulnerabilities of certain people groups, lack of human rights, economic instability, and more, it basically boils down to traffickers who choose to exploit people for their own gain, and the larger society that chooses to stay silently complicit out of convenience. It is a wilful decision to enslave people against their will, driven by a belief that certain people are worth less, just because of the disadvantage they face due to an environment of abuse or crime that they were raised in. A healing corrective for such a mindset can possibly be found within the Bible, which firmly holds that all human beings, irrespective of their ethnicity, race, color, gender or socio-economic background, have fundamentally equal dignity, because they are all created in the image of God.
So once we have understood this, what can we do to contribute to this cause? There are many non-profit organizations and human rights workers working in this area, generating awareness among people regarding trafficking and modern day slavery, listening to victims of trafficking and taking actions based on their experience, enforcing human rights, improving survivors’ access to education, and working towards increasing economic opportunities for vulnerable sections of the population. Each and every one of us can start being a small part in a large transformation today by setting aside a little time to volunteer with such organizations, and maybe a small portion of our incomes to financially contribute to them.