Ahead of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons observed on July 30, the International Commission for Human Rights and Religious Freedom (ICHRRF) called upon government, technology and civic organizations to honor the rights of victims of human trafficking at a time when the problem is becoming more widespread on a global scale.
This year's theme, "Victims' Voices Lead the Way", places victims of human trafficking at the centre of the campaign aimed at highlighting the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking.
The unprecedented economic devastation and increased inequality in the wake of the global pandemic has rendered thousands of women, men, and children vulnerable to trafficking. Amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, ICHRRF reiterates its support to global agencies in their efforts at establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identify and rescue victims and support them on their road to rehabilitation.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2020, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, in 2018 46% of detected victims were grown women and 19% underage girls. The Report shows that the share of children among detected trafficking victims has tripled while the share of boys has increased five times over the past 15 years. Girls are mainly trafficked for sexual exploitation, while boys are used mainly for forced labor and sometimes by pedophile rings.
Marginalized people under challenging circumstances are usually targeted by traffickers. With the unfamiliar situation of the COVID-19, there has been a significant increase in online child sexual abuse and exploitation. Many traffickers approach children on social media platforms. In some cases, such as the $2 billion social media platform Discord, it was found that the tech company’s support staff and moderators were themselves acting as enablers for grooming boys for sexual exploitation. Criminal gangs also use technology to identify, target, and exploit victims.
Governments must take critical measures to strengthen preventive actions, learn from victims' experiences, and listen to their suggestions to build a more victim-centered practical approach in combating human trafficking. World Day against Trafficking in Persons offers an ideal occasion to remind global leaders about the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol which is essential to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons.
ICHRRF reaffirms its commitment to amplify the voices of survivors and learn while standing with solidarity in the fight to prevent and end human trafficking.