Categories for Around the World

Warning Girls About The Tactics Of Human Traffickers

August 3, 2021

As we, the Africa Faith and Justice Network-Nigeria walked into Government Girls Science Secondary School of Kuje, Abuja, in Nigeria, I felt we were at the right place to speak with a vulnerable group of young girls who might be future victims of human trafficking. I was happy that we were going to share with younger children information about the dangers of human trafficking. The school administration was also pleased to welcome us to speak with the students on how to avoid being trafficked, and to teach them to speak out when they notice unusual behaviors. There were about 200 girls, from grades 7-12.

It was interesting that — though the students already have some idea about what human trafficking is — they were surprised that perpetrators can be family members or friends of a family. I could see their innocence and fear when they realized that no one could be trusted, since family members too are potential perpetrators of human trafficking.

They were very attentive and active during the program. The students were eager to know more and share with their friends about what they learned about human trafficking and the tricks perpetrators use to lure their victims. Anyone can be a victim and/or an agent for perpetrators. This was highlighted in a short drama that I guided them to act. The drama shows that there are chains of traffickers linked together, waiting for an available opportunity to strike.

In order to educate and inform their consciences, I asked the students if they understood the core message of the drama and the ideas it was trying to get across. Their answers were affirmative and that gave me joy. In fact, understanding the message I tried to get across with the help of a short drama means that this group of students will be able to elude the tricks of traffickers.

Read the full story by Teresa Anybuike on Global Sisters Report.

Ending Human Trafficking in the Twenty-First Century

July 22, 2021

“Human trafficking is more than a violation of human rights: it is also a threat to national security, economic growth, and sustainable development,” warns a new Council Special Report, Ending Human Trafficking in the Twenty-First Century. However, the United States “lacks sufficient authorities and coordination across the federal government to address human trafficking adequately, instead treating this issue as ancillary to broader foreign policy concerns.”

“Critics who challenge the allocation of political and financial capital to combat human trafficking underestimate trafficking’s role in bolstering abusive regimes and criminal, terrorist, and armed groups; weakening global supply chains; fueling corruption; and undermining good governance,” write Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Senior Fellows Jamille Bigio and Rachel B. Vogelstein. Trafficking generates $150 billion in illicit profits, and “an estimated twenty-five million people worldwide are victims—a number only growing in the face of vulnerabilities fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Despite efforts by multilateral institutions and governments around the world, the authors explain that “anti-trafficking efforts are undermined by insufficient authorities, weak enforcement, limited investment, and inadequate data.”

To address these gaps, the Joe Biden administration “should lead on the global stage . . . by strengthening institutional authorities and coordination, improving accountability, increasing resources, and expanding evidence and data,” the authors contend. Specifically, it should

  • “enact due diligence reforms to promote corporate accountability for forced labor in supply chains,” including by expanding the U.S. National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking;
  • “reform labor recruitment systems to combat the exploitation of migrant workers”;
  • “increase trafficking prosecutions by scaling the successful U.S. anti-trafficking coordination team model, which includes law enforcement, labor officials, and social service providers”;
  • “leverage technology against human trafficking; and increase investment to counter it”; and
  • “enlist leaders in the private, security, and global development sectors to propose innovative and robust prevention and enforcement initiatives.”

Read the full story on Council on Foreign Relations

Child Labor in Paraguay: How to Eradicate Criadazgo

June 22, 2021

TACOMA, Washington — The abominable practice of criadazgo (roughly translated to serfdom in the context of child labor) is the practice of taking in a child from a less privileged family to work at a household without receiving any pay or education. In other words, it is a form of slavery that affects youths ranging from ages five to seventeen. Not only does it deprive them of their right to education, but minors often work long hours and experience sexual and physical abuse.

Criadazgo in Paraguay

Like in many other Latin American countries, criadazgo has existed in Paraguay practically since the country gained independence from Spain more than 200 years ago. Over the centuries, it has consolidated itself into Paraguayan society and was only declared illegal in 2001.

Yet, in 2016, 18% of domestic workers in Paraguay were between 10 to 19 years old. Children often have to work as part of debt bondage, in the cattle-raising sector, as street vendors and in households doing domestic work.

Low-income families often cannot afford to raise their offspring. In many instances, middle and upper-class households buy children to work for an indefinite number of years, often continuing to do domestic work even after 18 years of age. In the worst cases, this type of child labor introduces youths to trafficking and forced prostitution.

Read the full article by Araí Yegros on Borgen Magazine

Sisters Fight Nigeria Trafficking With Networking, Advocacy And Collaboration

June 17, 2021

Nigeria has one of the highest rates of human trafficking in sub-Saharan Africa. But a very organized and active network of Catholic sisters is determined to change that by providing help to survivors and conducting education campaigns to prevent others from being victimized.

“Because trafficking of persons is on the increase despite efforts to end it, it has become one of the main projects of our ministry,” said Sr. Gloria Ozuluoke of the Religious Sisters of Charity. The congregation has a corporate stance to abolish human trafficking, she added. “It is part of our ministry — not just on special days set aside to campaign against human trafficking, which we marked with prayers and training for women and youth. Other days, we also train people and do advocacy on human trafficking. It’s a way of bringing to an end the social ills of human trafficking.”

Her congregation, which has its regional house in Lagos and has 45 members in the country, and others are now preparing programs to mark the United Nations’ World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30. The Religious Sisters of Charity and others throughout Nigeria also held special prayer services and workshops on Feb. 8, the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking, as did congregations around the world.

Yet education and rescue efforts by her congregation and others transcend particular days and are constant, as she noted in an interview with Global Sisters Report. That focus is part of a massive campaign through July among women religious congregations in Nigeria, and in collaboration with nonprofits and government agencies focused on anti-trafficking, Ozuluoke said. For instance, the sisters work with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, or NAPTIP, and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, or NDLEA, in combating trafficking and rehabilitating those affected by drug or substance abuse.

Read the full story by Patrick Egwu on Global Sisters Report.

Trafficking vs. Smuggling: Understanding the Difference

June 13, 2021

A spike in the number of migrants attempting to cross into the United States from Mexico this spring has led to concerns about a surge in sex trafficking and claims that lax border enforcement is making trafficking easier. We have not seen any evidence that there is in fact, more trafficking happening. Instead, we believe that the concern and calls for policy change to address it are the result of widespread misunderstanding about the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling. Let’s lay out the facts:

Human smuggling is the business of transporting people illegally across an international border, in this case into the United States. Smuggling does not involve coercion. The people the smugglers bring from one place to another place – illegally – generally have chosen to make the trip themselves for any number of reasons. Some are fleeing violence or poverty. Most, and are in fact, paying someone to help them make the journey.

Human trafficking, by contrast, is involuntary and is integral to its very definition. Traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to get someone to sell sex or work in exploitative conditions. Trafficking – unlike smuggling – does not necessarily involve movement or transportation at all. A person can be trafficked in their very own home. Additionally, anyone under the age of 18 who is involved in sex for profit is considered a trafficking victim, regardless of the presence of force, fraud or coercion.

So while smuggling might be affected by policies related to border enforcement, trafficking would not.

That is not to say that immigration and human trafficking are entirely unrelated.

Read the full story on Polaris.

Campaign Aims To Keep Seafarers’ Livelihoods Afloat During Coronavirus Hardships

June 8, 2021

Invisible to those ashore yet instrumental in keeping afloat the comforts of daily life, seafarers have long seeped through the cracks as they straddle worlds and identities.

They have home countries but live literally adrift, becoming strangers to all nations. They play a role in 90% of global trade but are not typically considered essential workers. They are prone to abuse and exploitation but often fall just outside the realm of trafficking advocacy.

Now, because of the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of thousands of these itinerant workers are also trapped.

For seafarers, who are responsible for delivering most food, medicine, electronics and even racehorses around the world, disembarking at most international ports has become an impossibility. The ship may be welcome, but to the community where it docks, members of the crew are perceived as potential carriers of COVID-19, even though they have typically been at sea for longer than the virus lasts.

“They’re sort of like prisoners, now more than ever,” said Sr. Mary Leahy, a Sister of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart who ministers to seafarers as the port chaplain for Stella Maris, Australia in Sydney.

The inability to get off ships means crew changes are less likely, so even when a seafarer’s contract expires after several months of labor, his or her tie to the job can get extended indefinitely. And because crews tend to be made up of individuals who come from poverty, their desperation for an income can be abused easily, as official complaints may leave them blacklisted from other jobs, Leahy said.

“It’s fertile ground for exploitation,” she said.

Since the plight of seafarers is distant to those on land, the international campaign Solidarity with Seafarers is bringing it to the fore, educating the public on the link between the products they buy and the people who deliver them as well as encouraging corporations to examine their suppliers’ human rights practices.

The campaign — a joint effort by Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human TraffickingStella Maris, and the Apostleship of the Sea of the United States — has its eye on one particular whale of a retailer: Walmart.

Petitioning for Walmart to sign the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change is the campaign’s ultimate concrete goal. The international pact, which over 800 companies have already signed, would help recognize seafarers as essential workers, give them priority access to COVID-19 vaccines, and establish better protocols to ensure timely crew changes, said Jennifer Reyes Lay, executive director of U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, which organized the petition.

Because Walmart has previously demonstrated a proactive interest in addressing forced labor practices in its supply chains, Reyes Lay said, this push for Walmart to include seafarers in that commitment is as possible as it would be impactful.

“It’s modern slavery … and companies that import stuff should be able to prove there’s no slavery in the chain,” Leahy said.

Read the full story by Soli Salgadoon Global Sisters Report

A Child For A Tarpaulin: Aid Workers’ Price List As They ‘Exchange Food And Shelter For Sex’

June 6, 2021

Charity aid workers have a price list of sex acts to exchange for food and shelter, experts have warned.

Sexual abuse by humanitarian workers is “systemic” and discussed so openly that translators are even used to negotiate deals, a conference at King’s College heard on Friday.

Sarah Champion, who chairs the international development select committee, said there is evidence of a “known exchange rate” for aid such as making a child “available” in return for tarpaulins for shelter or women having to exchange sex for employment.

The Labour MP for Rotherham warned that a blind eye has been turned as it is assumed aid workers are “good people” who are “above reprimand” and the recipients of aid are “seen as people who ought to be grateful”.

Ms Champion said: “If you are a woman in a humanitarian crisis desperate to get food for your children and the person standing there who is able to give you that food says ‘you can have the food, but this is what I want in exchange’, who wouldn’t do that for their children?

“How would you know that that wasn’t the rate of negotiation to get that food for your children?

“I’ve heard across different humanitarian crises that there’s almost a known exchange rate. If you want the aid, if you want a tarpaulin, then your child needs to be made available, if you want a job then you are expected to sleep with the person who’s able to give you that job.”

Read the full article by Hayley Dixon on Yahoo! News

Out On The High Seas, When News Happens No One Sees it

May 23, 2021

About 100 miles off the coast of Thailand, three dozen Cambodian boys and men worked barefoot all day and into the night on the deck of a purse seiner fishing ship. Fifteen-foot swells climbed the sides of the vessel, clipping the crew below the knees. Ocean spray and fish innards made the floor skating-rink slippery.

Seesawing erratically from the rough seas and gale winds, the deck was an obstacle course of jagged tackle, spinning winches and tall stacks of 500-pound nets. Rain or shine, shifts ran 18 to 20 hours. At night, the crew cast their nets when the small silver fish they target — mostly jack mackerel and herring — were more reflective and easier to spot in darker waters.

This was a brutal place, one that I’ve spent the past several years exploring. Fishing boats on the South China Sea, especially in the Thai fleet, had for years been notorious for using so-called sea slaves, mostly migrants forced offshore by debt or duress.

Two-thirds of the planet is covered by water and much of that space is ungoverned. Human rights, labor and environmental crimes occur often and with impunity because the oceans are vast. What laws exist are difficult to enforce.

Arguably the most important factor, though, is that the global public is woefully unaware of what happens offshore. Reporting about and from this realm is rare. As a result, landlubbers have little idea of how reliant they are on the sea or the more than 50 million people who work out there.

Forced labor on fishing ships is not the only human rights concern. Hundreds of stowaways and migrants are killed at sea annually. A multibillion-dollar private security industry operates at sea, and when these mercenary forces kill, governments rarely respond because no country holds jurisdiction in international waters. Somewhere in the world, at least one ship sinks every three days, which is part of the reason that fishing is routinely ranked as among the deadliest professions.

And then there’s the environmental crisis. Oil spills aren’t the worst of it. Every three years, ships intentionally dump more oil and sludge into the oceans than the Exxon Valdez and BP spills combined. Acidification is damaging most of the world’s coral reefs.

Read the full story by Ian Urbina on The Ocean Outlaw Project.


Women Religious Link Human Trafficking To Family Homelessness

May 18, 2021

Women religious of UNANIMA International have launched a new publication with the results of their research on links between human trafficking and family homelessness. At the launch of ‘The Intersections of Family Homelessness and Human Trafficking,’ in an international webinar on 11 May, speakers from Australia, Philippines, India, Italy, Albania, USA and Ireland, spotlighted the vulnerability of homeless people to being trafficked. It was hosted by Sr Jean Quinn, Congregation of the Daughters of Wisdom and Executive Director of UNANIMA International.

UNANIMA International is a coalition of women religious in 83 countries who advocate on behalf of women and children, particularly those living in poverty, migrants and refugees, homeless and displaced, and in the context of environmental issues. Its work takes place primarily at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and the present focus is on homelessness and displacement. Addressing family homelessness, displacement and trauma are integral to achieving the 2030 Agenda for UN Sustainable Development Goals and the pledge to ‘leave no one behind, especially those furthest left behind.’

At the webinar, Sr Imelda Poole, IBVM, President of RENATE Europe (Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation), drew upon her work at Mary Ward Loreto in Albania to highlight exploitative cross-border transits affecting those marginalised in Albanian society. She linked the starkness of the situation for the Roma community in Albania and undocumented Romanian girls living on the street at Euston Station, London. Imelda felt ineffective legislation plays a part in the intersections of family homelessness and human trafficking when in so many countries worldwide, domestic workers – largely immigrant women – are often unprotected by labour laws. In Britain, thousands of identified trafficked people are now lost in the system and they cannot access benefits. They are offered work and they disappear. Imelda warned of the “decivilisation” of human society.

Sr Amarachi Grace Ezeonu, SND, representing the sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at the UN, told the story of a homeless mother and her young daughter in Northern Nigeria who were offered accommodation and work by a man who befriended them. Then one day he was gone and had taken the young girl with him, leaving the mother distraught. Their vulnerability left them open to exploitation.

Sr Noelene Simmons, of ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Human Trafficking), reported on emerging issues of migrants and homelessness in Oceania. A woman who was a trafficking victim from the Philippines told her heart-rending story of surviving being forced into prostitution while being homeless. She attributed her recovery to the support she received from women religious who guided her rehabilitation and opened up choices in her life.

Read the full story by Anne Kelleher on independent catholic news.

Pandemic Blamed For Creating Conditions For Increased Human Trafficking

May 5, 2021

The pandemic-related economic downturn, business closures, increase in global unemployment and reduced incomes have contributed to greater human trafficking of children, women, domestic workers and migrants without legal status.

That is the assessment of a Miami law professor and newly appointed member of Pope Francis’ Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, created in 2016 through the merger of four pontifical councils.

The dicastery is charged with developing and promoting the church’s teaching in the fields of justice, peace, the safeguarding of creation, as well as issues that concern health and works of charity. It now includes several COVID-19-related working groups.

“There is evidence of an increase in the commercial sexual exploitation of children, child work, girl-child marriages to alleviate families’ hardship, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation of women and children living in internally displaced person (IDP) camps, including camps in Haiti,” said professor Roza Pati, of St. Thomas University’s College of Law.

Pati is executive director of the university’s intercultural human rights program and founding director of the Miami-based John J. Brunetti Human Trafficking Academy.

Citing recent reports from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, the United Nations and Polaris, a nongovernmental organization that operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline, she noted the pandemic has set the stage for greater illegal activity related to human trafficking.

Read the full story by Tom Tracy on Angelus.