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World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 30 July

Blog by Carol Infanti, SI Medway and Maidstone

In line with the aim of the Sustainable Development Goals to ‘leave no one behind’, the theme for World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2023 is “Reach every victim of trafficking, leave no one behind”

In the context of trafficking in persons, leaving people behind means:

  • failing to end the exploitation of trafficking victims,
  • failing to support victim-survivors once they are free from their traffickers, and
  • leaving identifiable groups vulnerable to traffickers.

World Day against Trafficking in Persons is held on July 30th each year. People trafficking and modern-day slavery is a massive worldwide problem with very few countries immune to human trafficking.

Global crises, conflicts and the climate emergency are escalating trafficking risks. Displacement and socio-economic inequalities are impacting millions of people worldwide, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers. Those who lack legal status, live in poverty, have limited access to education, healthcare or decent work, face discrimination, violence, or abuse or they come from marginalized communities which are often the primary targets of traffickers.

Globally, national responses, particularly in developing states, appear to be deteriorating. Detection rates fell by 11% in 2020 and convictions plummeted by 27%, illustrating a worldwide slowdown in the criminal justice response to trafficking. The COVID-19 pandemic also changed the characteristics of trafficking, pushing it further underground and potentially increasing the dangers to victims by making the crime less likely to come to the attention of the authorities. 41% of victims who manage to escape their ordeal reach out to the authorities on their own initiative, another clear sign that anti-trafficking responses are falling short.

A report published by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (2022) found that female victims are subjected to physical or extreme violence at the hand of the traffickers at a rate three times higher than males. While children are subjected to physical or extreme violence at a rate almost two times higher than adults.

Human traffickers have become adept at using internet platforms, including social media channels, online marketplace sites, and free-standing webpages to recruit victims and attract clients. Traffickers either actively ‘hunt’ those who they deem as vulnerable to falling victim to trafficking, or passively ‘fish’ for potential victims by posting advertisements and waiting for potential victims to respond. It is vitally important that we educate ourselves and our young people about internet security. Anyone can become a victim.

It is also worth noting that women who are investigated for trafficking in persons are significantly more likely to be convicted than men.

Human trafficking is when someone is moved by force, fraud, coercion or deception to be exploited. We cannot allow this crime to be met with increasing indifference. We must strengthen resilience against exploitation and the underlying socio-economic and cultural issues that are conducive to trafficking. We must sensitize everyone to the topic of human trafficking and push attention towards those who can make a difference in terms of changing policy and national resource management to strengthen prevention measures, improve identification of victims, increase support of survivors.

Soroptimists taking action

Soroptimists are taking action by displaying large posters in prominent positions including airports and ferry terminals. Information stands in libraries, and talks by journalists who have researched and heard the personal stories all help to raise awareness and spot the signs of human trafficking.

What you can do

Show your support – use the blue heart on your social media, wear blue, turn buildings blue in the same way that we now ‘orange buildings’.  Donate to the UN Trust Fund or other charities working with victims of human trafficking.

The Blue Heart symbol represents solidarity with the victims and the cold-heartedness of those who buy and sell their fellow human beings.