July 30 is the World Day against Trafficking in Persons – CC via Wikimedia Commons/Lembagai KITA
CAIRO – 30 June 2017: July 30 is World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The World Day was adopted in 2013 during a United Nations (UN) General Assembly meeting to appraise the 2010 Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. One of the crucial provisions in this Plan is the establishment of a
Human trafficking is the exploitation of women, children and men for numerous purposes including forced labor and sex, according to the United Nations Organization on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). ‘Trafficking in persons’ also means the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them.
Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims. According to UNODC, children make up almost a third of trafficked victims worldwide while women and girls comprise 71 percent of human trafficking victims.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) indicates that human trafficking and forced labor are the modern version of slavery, with domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment among the sectors most concerned. The organization’s 2017 estimates show that the number of trafficked victims is 21 million including 11.4 million women and girls and 9.5 million men and boys. It also estimates that 19 million victims are exploited by private individuals or enterprises and over 2 million by the state or rebel groups. The estimated illegal profits generated from forced labor in the private economy $ 150 billion.
The ILO indicates a strong linkage between migration and refugee crisis and trafficking in persons. Migrants and asylum-seekers are increasingly vulnerable to exploitation along their migration route including labor and sexual servitude, smuggling, and abduction.
Children in Child Labor - ILO
People in Forced Labor - ILO
Children at Risk of Abuse - UNICEF
Detected Victims by Sub-regional and Trans-regional Trafficking - UNODC
The Executive Director of UNODC Yury Fedotov stated in an event marking the World Day against Trafficking in Persons held in 2016 that, "Armed conflicts and humanitarian crises expose those caught in the crossfire to increased risk of being trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced labor, organ removal, servitude and other forms of slavery."
Fedotov declared that the international community has been suffering from the biggest refugee and migration crisis since the Second World War. Human trafficking victims among refugees flowing from Syria, Eretria, Myanmar, and Bangladesh have been on the rise.
International efforts to prevent and respond to trafficking
Combating human trafficking and modern slavery falls under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) No. 8. In target 8.7 leaders committed to “take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2050 end child labor in all its forms.”
To achieve this goal, the international community together focus on accelerating timelines, conducting research and sharing knowledge, driving innovation, and increasing and leveraging resources.
A joint initiative by the UNODC and the European Union (EU) in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was launched in response to trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants.
Assistance will be given by these organizations within a plan executed between 2015 and 2019 to 15 strategically selected countries across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Those countries are Egypt, Morocco, Mali, Niger, South Africa, Nepal, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Belarus, Ukraine, Brazil, and Colombia.
The initiative has six objectives that are strategy and policy development, legislative assistance, capacity building, regional and trans-regional cooperation, protection and assistance to victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants, and assistance and support to children among victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants.
In a report released in 2014 by the Office to monitor and combat Trafficking in Persons affiliated with the U.S. Department of State, various forms of human trafficking among different social sectors.
Children are subjected to forced begging and sexual exploitation. Children recruited for domestic service and agricultural labor often face restrictions on movement, nonpayment of wages, threats and physical or sexual abuse.
Trafficking in Egypt:
According to the 2016 “Trafficking in Persons” report issued by U.S. Department of State Office to monitor and combat trafficking in persons, Egypt is a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected trafficking. Types of trafficking include sex trafficking and forced labor in domestic services, street begging, and agricultural work.
Furthermore, Egypt suffers from “child sex tourism”, whereby girls are forced to marry foreigners temporarily during summer vacations in return for money. That arrangement is often facilitated by the victims’ parents and marriage brokers who benefit from the transaction. Child sex tourism occurs primarily in Cairo, Alexandria, and Luxor.
These social diseases are the outcome of poverty, the immediate result of overpopulation and overload on educational facilities, as many poor parents consider their numerous children as a source of income. Such parents often do not send their children to school and force them to work in the informal sector, mostly in agriculture, workshops, and other manual works.
The report adds that, Egyptian men are subjected to forced labor in construction, agriculture, and low-paying service jobs in neighboring countries. It refers to media reports in 2015 on migrant Egyptian children in Italy who were observed selling goods in marketplaces and streets and vulnerable to sex exploitation.
Recently, there has been a hike in child abduction cases coupled with another phenomenon of a rise in organ trade. That is a more dangerous trend as child abduction cases used to be associated with using children for forced begging which entailed greater chances of finding abducted children while organ trade incur the death of those children.
That has stirred rage in the parliament resulting in many members urging the government earlier this month to draft a law imposing death penalty on malefactors involved in child abduction crimes.
In December 2016, an international organ trade network fell in the hands of security forces. Its members exploited poor citizens convincing them to sell their organs for a very small fee and with disregard to risks on their health. Migrants from South and Southeast Asia and East Africa often fall victims to different forms of human trafficking such as “forced labor in domestic service, experiencing sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, withholding of wages and documents, restrictions on movement, no time off, and denial of medical care.”
“Employers use some domestic workers’ lack of legal status and employment contracts as coercive tools to threaten arrest and abuse if they escape or complain of poor conditions,” according to the U.S. Department of State.
The report states that Syrian refugees who have settled in Egypt remain vulnerable to exploitation, including forced child labor, sex trafficking, and transactional marriages of girls which can lead to sexual exploitation.
Egypt is making significant efforts to fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continues to implement the 2012 national action plan to combat trafficking in persons, which prioritize combating trafficking among vulnerable populations.
These efforts include cooperation between the inter-ministerial anti-trafficking committee with national and international organizations to identify and refer trafficking victims to protective services employing national referral mechanisms. According to the U.S. Department of State Office report the government operated a free telephone hotline to report trafficking abuses and conducted 154 anti-trafficking education sessions throughout Egypt for government officials, NGOs, and populations at risk of child marriage.
The Egyptian government also increased numbers of arrests and prosecutions of traffickers. Furthermore, the government focuses on raising the public awareness of the issue through awareness pamphlets and advertisements and social media.
There is a need to increase the efforts to identify victims among vulnerable groups, including foreign migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, street children, and women in domestic service. There is also a need to continue providing anti-trafficking training to government officials and implement awareness campaigns on the problem of sex tourism and to provide legal protections for domestic workers.
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