World Day Against Trafficking in Persons – 30 July 2018

Illustration by Ludovic Pujol

By Rita Plantera – Chief of Growth, femLENS

Millions of people are victims of traffickers worldwide, every year, often speaking the same language or coming from the same place. 

In 2016, more than 40 million people were in modern slavery and 152 million in child labor around the world, according to the 2017 Global Estimates on Modern Slavery report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Modern slavery has no borders and includes crimes such as forced labor, early and forced marriage, sexual exploitation, human trafficking and organ trafficking.

As an ever-growing and multifaceted crime, it challenges governments and society, while being fed by a lack of global attention and awareness.

In 2013, July 30 had been designated by the United Nations (UN) as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The resolution adopted by Member States 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.”

This year’s campaign of the World Day focus on ‘responding to the trafficking of children and young people’ to draw “attention to the issues faced by trafficked children and to possible action initiatives linked to safeguarding and ensuring justice for child victims”.

Children make nearly a third of trafficking victims worldwide, the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) found.

Of note is that, while 28 percent of trafficking victims worldwide are children, in regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, children are, respectively, 62 percent and 64 percent of victims, the report states.

“In 2016, an estimated 9.2 million men, women, and children were living in modern slavery in Africa. The region has the highest rate of prevalence, with 7.6 people living in modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the region”, according to the 2018 Global Slavery Index by the Walk Free Foundation.

“Protecting the most vulnerable among us has become ever more important, as humanitarian crises and armed conflict have left children and young people at greater risk of being trafficked. The perils are compounded further still when children and young people are on the move, often separated from their families”, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov states on this year’s United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

As part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda adopted in September 2015, the United Nations has a global goal to defeat slavery and forced labor by 2030 and end all child labor by 2025.

Forced labor generates US$ 150 billion in illegal profits per year, of which US$ 99 billion from commercial sexual exploitation, while US$ 51 billion results from forced economic exploitation, including domestic work, agriculture and other economic activities, according to the 2014 ILO report – Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour.

Recently, the United States Banks Alliance, an anti-trafficking coalition established by Thomson Reuters Foundation, launched a set of tools to help financial institutions to spot profits from human trafficking.

The Alliance includes American Express, Bank of America, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, PayPal, Western Union, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s investigations arm, the New York County District Attorney, and the U.S.-based anti-trafficking group Polaris. 

Using data provided by banks will help authorities to fight human trafficking.

Being aware of how the impact of modern slavery can be devastating for victims is a keystone to building a solid commitment by everyone to fight and eradicate such crime.

This is the essential significance of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, and as femLENS we are committed to engaging with the awareness campaign, and help victims of trafficking.