Today marks the date of the United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons. A day that recognizes the unfortunate reality of an estimated 20 million people trapped in modern-day slavery and the thousands forced from their conflict-ridden homelands. Human trafficking is an event that takes place in every single country around the world, yet in the past decade there has been little to no improvement legally in preventing or obtaining justice for these crimes. In the period covered by the Global Report, 40 percent of countries reported less than ten convictions per year.
Trafficked people are often tricked into servitude, forced into prostitution and used as organ suppliers. Women and girls make up the majority of people trafficked, accounting for 55 percent of forced labor and 98 percent of sexual slavery. Although slavery was outlawed it has never truly ended. In fact, it is argued that there are more enslaved people today than ever before. The profits generated by forced labor and prostitution is immense, coming in around $150 billion a year globally. Business is booming for the trafficking industry and as long as there is a demand there will be a supply.
The creation of this day is to bring awareness to the seriousness of this global issue and to urge countries into legal action. Ratifying and implementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol on Trafficking in Persons represents a major step in fighting against transnational organized crime and promotes international cooperation in tackling those problems. Passing the U.S legislation called Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015 would require U.S companies, specifically publicly traded companies, to remove labor abuses from their supply chains. This law would improve reporting and transparency ensuring labor abuses are diminished and allow consumers to make more informed decisions.
In the past two years 5,119 people have perished in the Mediterranean Sea as a result of being trafficked from North Africa. Conflict in Libya and other surrounding countries have made people more likely to seek out traffickers in order to escape poverty and violence. The European Union has put its focus on stopping the smugglers by increasing border patrol and decreasing its efforts to save lives. However, this plan is flawed, as it does not confront the root of the problem. As long as people are desperate to leave there will always be smugglers to provide the service. The longer the international community fails to respond to widespread conflict and poverty, the greater the problem becomes. The European Union must work together in establishing an easier route to legal immigration and asylum so there will be no need for smugglers services.
Today is a day to raise awareness for the victims of human trafficking, and encourage countries as well as individuals to help promote and protect the victims rights. Individual efforts go a long way, whether it be raising awareness, activism or donations. For example, the UN encourages social media users to use the hashtag #igivehope to spread awareness of human trafficking. It also helps to donate to beneficial organizations such as Free the Slaves and United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, who work on the ground and support those in need. Furthermore, becoming a more conscious shopper will keep you informed about products and corporate policies, in order to prevent buying slave trade items. Using websites like KnowTheChain can help consumers track where companies stand on this issue.