Let’s talk about trafficking, shall we? And, Noy Thrupkaew

The serious issues involving trafficking, and especially human trafficking, are not  as highlighted in the media as they should be. This is not to speak of voluntary prostitution or low-paid work ran by assholes, but about the criminal activity involving human beings being sold and used as objects, as products. Considering that human trafficking is modern-day slavery, isn’t it interesting how the news value of such a terrible criminal activity is much less interesting than let’s say what Ben & Jerry do outside a government building? 

According to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons study from the UN office on drug and crime, between 2010 and 2014 the victims of trafficking have been identified to origin from more than 152 countries around the world, found in 124 countries. 72% of them are male and 28% are female, with 33 % of the detected victims being children. The trafficked children section has been increasing since the previous report, with about 5 % and this is a total fucking disaster.

The report further states that there are some trends to be found in regards to where the victims of trafficking are located and for which form of exploitation they are aimed. In Europe and central Asia, 63% of the victims are used for sexual exploitation, whereas victims originating from East Asia and South Asia and the Pacific are exploited mostly for labor and slavery-like activities.

Today. This is a report on shit going on today.

In regards to transnational trafficking activity, the main destination areas in the world are North and Central America and the Caribbean, Western and Central Europe as well as the Middle East, according to the same report. Well worth noting is that over 64% of the assholes (convicted traffickers) are nationals, meaning that they share citizenship with the victims which they are exploiting.

Let’s just take all that information in for a second.

As it’s known from various reports, the fashion industry has caught up on this trend badly, outsourcing its production of clothes to countries without much regulations for how to treat employees. Or, with very simple corrupt structures making it far to easy for company representatives to travel over there once in a while, pay a little something to the local manager and make sure that the wages and working conditions keep declining while the production outcome keeps improving.

It’s basic economy, right?

Young children working 12 hours a day (at least) for a ridiculous, symbolic amount of money, without having insurance, with the worst working conditions possible and with no way out of these large corporations’ hands – seems fully legit, right? Parents and young people working with toxic substances day in and day out, dying from poisoning and without ever being able to get a fair process, a fair trial, for what they’ve been put through. Not their children either, nobody, ever. Whoever starts revolting in such a priso.. oh wait, in such a corporation facility will either be beaten and fired, only fired or maybe, sometimes, manage to force the employers to do something useful.

Worth noting is that when large, powerful corporations are looking for a place in which to invest, the countries receiving this money aren’t the only ones to blame for that form of activity. Most governments around the world do have a anti-trafficking policy and they have also most often signed all sorts of international conventions for how to battle this disaster of a global issue. However, since there’s so much money involved in this business, corrupting is a fairly easy task for those responsible for the people running these criminal organizations.

The trend of exploiting people for forced labor has increased and from 2007 to 2011, the numbers went from 32% to 40% of the detected victims being abused in this particular way. 72% of the convicted traffickers are men and 28% are women and as this may seem like a pretty expected number, it tells far more than the general ratio of gender statistics in crime. Far more than any other criminal segment, the trafficking in persons section has a much higher number of female offenders.

Just when thinking that things couldn’t get more disgusting, the statistics also show that between 2007 and 2011, the number of trafficked girls had increased from 10% to 21%. The majority of child trafficking is by far occurring in Africa and the Middle East with 62% of the victim being under 18, whereas Europe has the lowest number of 18%.

UN identified three main forms of operations – small local operations, medium sub-regional operations and large trans-regional operations, pointing out that these activities are becoming a stronger business with evolved corporation-like structures for production, transport and sales management.

Except, you know, we’re talking about abusing people here.

In humanizing all of this otherwise very formally presented subject, Noy Thrupkaew is a fighter against human trafficking. She  emphasizes the importance of long-term thinking, encouraging governments to take more customized approaches towards dealing with these issues and also motivating journalists around the world to really get involved in helping highlighting what trafficking is doing to people. Her own story involving seeing trafficking in the family at a young age, then fighting against it as a journalist and researcher is inspiring and important.

As she herself puts it, I’ve heard one expert say that trafficking happens where need meets greed. I’d like to add one more element to that. Trafficking happens in sectors where workers are excluded from protections, and denied the right to organize. Trafficking doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in systematically degraded work environments. You might be thinking, oh, she’s talking about failed states, or war-torn states, or – I’m actually talking about the United States. Let me tell you what that looks like.

Yes, there are far more positive things to focus on in life, that’s true. However, the one doesn’t necessarily exclude the other, and the sooner this form of criminal activity is dealt with, the happier all things will get. Considering the increase in human trafficking that we’re currently experiencing, an increased level of understanding about the problem among people who aren’t involved in this business is the absolute key aspect here. The more educated people are about the routes, the trends, the people behind those asshole trends and their end customers, the more likely they are to identify and act upon that new knowledge.

Is a cheap sweater worth slavery? Is it reasonable that sexual trafficking can even happen, and that their end consumers can walk freely on this planet despite being well aware of their consumption? Is it OK that politicians and institutions chill the F out with actually dealing with human trafficking because of the fact that many, many people of that sort get their fair (financial) share of these activities?

The increasing trend can be reversed if people on a global scale get more aware and make better choices – it’s simple as that.

Are you aware of the human trafficking situation in the world today? Do you make choices based on that knowledge?

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