MADISON, Wisconsin — Human trafficking is a crime that piggy-backs the larger crime of poverty and lack of opportunity, so the road toward ending it is full of potholes and detours. Each country has its methods for inhibiting traffickers, but sometimes they can end up working against each other.
Sudan has long been considered a passage country for illegal immigrants to enter Europe, and the United States State Department reported in 2012 that “[t]he Government of Sudan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.”
In an attempt to amend its reputation as lacks on human trafficking offenders, Sudan asked for assistance at a border conference and has received financial assistance from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The money has been used to divide refugee camps into smaller and more manageable groups and to heighten security in and out of the camps.
The Sudan Refugees Commission said that in 2013, the country hosted around 500,000 refugees from the horn of Africa. These tighter security measures are in an attempt to keep more of them legally registered in 2014.
Thailand’s current memorandum dealing with Myanmar immigrants rules that every four years, immigrants must return to Myanmar for three years before taking up work in Thailand again. This system affects an estimated 100,000 Myanmar immigrant workers and is hugely disruptive to the economy.
The threat of such a long time spent away from their job and family in Thailand is enough to force many Myanmar immigrants to accept an illegal early return to Thailand through traffickers and smugglers.
There is an amendment in place that would change this three-year stretch in their native country to a single day, thus eliminating the demand for traffickers. However, this new agreement has not been put into action because the care-taking government is restricted by its constitution from signing anything that would be legally binding for the incoming government.
The U.S. is undergoing a struggle between law enforcement officers who want to push Congress for greater authority to go after industries that post ads for sex with minors and victims of human trafficking and conservative state lawmakers who fear the repercussions of attempting to limit the bounds of Internet business.
For many the political risk ranges from policing a market place that has largely grown through the government’s hands-off approach and becoming characterized as sympathetic to sex offenders. In the fray of political agendas, it is easy for the real victims to be forgotten.
The greatest aid to human trafficking is still lack of conversation about it in poor regions. In the last two years, 315 women from the Ky Son District in Vietnam have been smuggled into bondage, nearly all of them against their will. In many traditional cultures, shame prevents those who are trafficked from being honest with their families about what they go through, but sometimes families are so poor that they have no choice but to re-sell their children even when they know the horrors this will involve.
Human trafficking must be addressed on a government and community level before neighborhoods will shy away from harboring traffickers and victims will feel safe speaking out. When the world’s citizens have been educated to the dangers of human trafficking and their own vulnerability to it traffickers will have a much harder time making them into victims.
– Lydia Caswell
Sources: Bangkok Post, CBS
Photo: Brine Books