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Listen, Acknowledge, Act: Giving A Voice to Survivors to Combat Human Trafficking

Listen, Acknowledge, Act: Giving A Voice to Survivors to Combat Human Trafficking 

Image Source: UNODC

This World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is themed on listening to the survivors. Hearing people tell their stories can be painful for those listening as well as those recounting past horrors. Victims come from different age groups and ethnic backgrounds, and are taken from and transported to countries in every region of the world. 

The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children defines trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion”, including ‘abduction, fraud, deception, or the abuse of power (or of a position of vulnerability) for the purpose of exploitation.’

The Trafficking in Persons report (2016) states that “refugees and migrants; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals; religious minorities; people with disabilities; and those who are stateless” are the most at-risk for human trafficking. Potential victims can best be protected from being exploited when the needs of these vulnerable populations are understood. 

That’s why it is so important to listen to what these individuals have to say. Although oftentimes disturbing, these stories play an important role in sharing information to help more of us understand our roles in preventing this form of abuse. We can learn how to identify current victims of trafficking, to not only help them escape from abuse, but also provide the support they often need long after leaving harmful environments.  

Over the past ten years, the total number of reported victims of human trafficking has trended upwards, with nearly 109,000 cases in over 160 countries in 2020. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that in 2018, 38% of the total number of trafficked human beings were exploited for forced labor.  

One view is that the rise is due to increased scrutiny and prosecution.  On the other hand, due to increases in regional conflicts and wealth disparity, and the current coronavirus pandemic, it is also possible that more people are becoming more vulnerable. 

So what can we do? 

Many countries have created task forces to tackle this crime, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings has developed an action plan which focuses on the four P’s: Prevention, Prosecution, Protection, and Partnerships.  

slavefreetrade is currently developing the Freedomer App, which aims to give individuals around the world a voice and a platform to demand that consumer goods are untainted by modern slavery and Made In Freedom™. Additionally, slavefreetrade’s unique methodology for performing continuous workplaces assessment gives employers the opportunity to not only ensure that their workplaces are free of modern slavery practices, but also encourages businesses to take a deep look into their supply chains and ensure that their partners do not benefit (knowingly or unwittingly) from modern slavery practices and/or the trafficking of human beings.  

Supporting survivors of human trafficking with finding their voice is not only useful to fight this crime, but it is also the humane thing to do, allowing people to move past labels of victim and survivor. Hearing their stories remind us that we are all human beings deserving of the same respect, protection, and human rights. 

This article was authored by Ray DeSouza, writer at slavefreetrade.