The World Day Against Trafficking in Persons occurs on July 30 each year. Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013, the intention is to educate the public, mobilize action, and encourage political support and intervention.
Trafficking in persons is a global problem and requires a coordinated effort by all countries worldwide. International days and weeks are powerful advocacy tools, and World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is no exception. It helps celebrate humanity and the positive results we can achieve when we all work together as well as provides the opportunity to reflect on what can be done to reduce susceptibility to trafficking.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking affects people all around the world. Whether the country is the place of origin, transit, or destination, the problem is everywhere and no nation is exempt. The UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transport, transfer, harboring or receipt of a person by such means as threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud or deception for the purpose of exploitation.” The most common forms of human trafficking are forced labor and sexual exploitation. Labor trafficking includes bonded labor, forced labor, and child labor, while sex trafficking can include prostitution, pornography, and live streams of sex shows.
The Theme for World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2022
This year’s theme is on the use and abuse of technology. The use of technology is both an enabler and an aid against human trafficking. Traffickers have always fed off the vulnerability of others. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issue, leaving millions of people, especially children, at a greater risk of being trafficked. Moreover, online use has increased throughout the pandemic causing traffickers to find new and novel ways of working.
Cyberspace offers traffickers the means to recruit and advertise victims to potential clients. It makes it easier to communicate with other traffickers as well as organize transport and accommodation. They can also use social media to find and groom potential victims. Operating online gives traffickers the cover of anonymity. Allowing them to work across international borders with less chance of detection. In many ways, technology makes it easier, cheaper, and faster to traffick people.
On the other hand, the use of technology has enormous potential to help anti-trafficking efforts. Technology can be used as a tool to aid investigations and help expose trafficking networks while awareness-raising campaigns and social media all help to encourage safe online use. This can also prevent crimes from occurring by empowering at-risk populations. Beyond government and public use of technology, there is an opportunity for communities to work with the private sector to develop sustainable and innovative digital tools that support anti-trafficking efforts.
Exposure to the Prevention of Human Trafficking
It is important to keep our eyes open to the crime of human trafficking. We might think of it as an issue that does not affect us or that it would not be present where we live, but sadly that is untrue. Unfortunately, people are trafficked all over the world, even in countries considered extremely safe. While people with a criminal background make up the majority of traffickers, traffickers can also be business owners, intimate partners, and family members. Human trafficking operates in the underbelly of society. The more exposure the crime receives, the harder it is for traffickers to work. The end goal is prevention while allowing victims to receive the help and support they need.
Get Behind The Blue Heart Campaign
Developed by the UNODC, the campaign aims to make the Blue Heart the international symbol of human trafficking. The intent is to raise awareness, increase visibility and encourage action. The blue is to signify the sadness of trafficking victims, and the heartlessness of those who perpetrate this crime. You can show your support by wearing the blue heart, adding it to your social media profiles, donating to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking, and learning about the UNODC blue heart campaign here.
Support Ethical Working Conditions
People trafficked into forced labor can make some of the items we buy online. Common products made by forced or child labor include sugarcane, cotton, coffee, tobacco, cattle, rice, fish, bricks, garments, textiles, footwear, carpets, fireworks, gold, coal, and diamonds. You can use your purchase power to say no to unfair work conditions and pay when shopping online, look for Fairtrade Certification, become informed about who you are buying from, and look up where they source their products.
You can also join the conversation using the hashtags #EndHumanTrafficking and #HumanTrafficking on social media.
– Kristen Rive-Thomson
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