Perhaps, if the rebels were stealing oil rather than humans, the world would pay more attention. As it is, slavery was abolished more than 150 years ago, yet we have more slaves now than ever in history. This is in the ugly form of human trafficking, and exists at different levels: Sex Trafficking, Child Sex Trafficking, Forced Labor, Bonded Labor or Debt Bondage, Domestic Servitude, Forced Child Labor, Unlawful Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers and many more. One which is often overlooked is what I term “marriage trafficking” arguably, common with women. We cannot ignore the evidence that women are often the prey to these predators.
Practically, girls as young as twelve or below are being forced or tricked into marrying old men who exploit them for sex and domestic work. The ‘marriages’ are more often than not, arranged by family members, wedding agencies or brokers, often for financial or material gain. Violence, abuse, restrictions on movement and isolation from parents and friends usually characterize these forced unions.
Marriage is often considered a private, family matter, which is not discussed even when domestic violence and abuse are involved. Apparently why trafficking through this route is underreported and masked. As with other forms of human trafficking, only a small proportion of cases of forced marriage come to the attention of police and there are very few convictions.
Women and girls affected by such crimes usually find it difficult to seek help and speak to authorities for fear of stigmatization. The victims are also concerned about what would happen to their children, residence permits or to their homes if they report the crime.
UNODC in a new publication interviewed around 150 people who come into contact with potential victims of human trafficking. These included lawyers, government officials, members of non-governmental organizations and police officers,” says Tejal Jesrani, a UNODC Research Officer.
Although trafficking for the purpose of marriage is a global phenomenon, the way the crime is perpetrated in different countries is very specific depending on cultural, religious and socioeconomic factors. It is commonplace to find that many of the victims come from disadvantaged family backgrounds and most cases of trafficking for the purpose of marriage involve young, female victims.
Contributing factors that keep women at am upper level of vulnerability to abuse and exploitation are things like their age, status in society and lack of education and employment opportunities. Physical and sexual abuse of women is mostly perpetrated by the husband, sometimes relatives, friends and other third parties, including clients purchasing sexual services or abusive marriage brokers.
Come to think of it, if we have the empowerment we need as humans and as women, we will not be found wanting at loose ends like trafficking of any sort. Worse of, our ignorance is being exploited without our consent. Watch out for various coercive or fraudulent methods that are used to obtain consent from potential victims, including abduction, deception, abuse of vulnerability and the receiving of payments or gifts.
WE DECRY HUMAN TRAFFICKING