On July 30th every year, the world comes together to honor World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (TIP) a resolution adopted in 2013 by UN member states to raise awareness about human trafficking.
- Globally it is estimated that 24.9 million people are subjected to human trafficking
- Over 50,000 people were in contact with the Human trafficking hotline in 2021
- 41% of trafficking victims reached out to the authorities on their own initiative
These alarming statistics are a sign that our response to this crisis is insufficient.
This article will explore the significance of inclusive efforts in combating human trafficking, examine the challenges faced in reaching all victims, and highlight the importance of collaborative strategies to ensure comprehensive support for survivors.
Who are vulnerable groups?
Marginalized Communities: Vulnerable groups, such as migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons, and ethnic minorities, are particularly susceptible to trafficking. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), migrants comprise a significant proportion of trafficking victims, accounting for 70% of detected cases in some regions.
- Individuals specifically vulnerable to human trafficking in the United States include children in the child welfare system, juvenile justice system, runways or homeless populations; persons who do not have lawful immigration status in the United States; persons with disability, and individuals who suffer from substance use disorders.
- Women and LGBTQI+ community members are notably more vulnerable; however, sex and labor traffickers also regularly target boys and men.
- Individuals also have a higher risk of being trafficked if they are relocating, misusing substances, or have an unstable housing situation. Additionally, they might be at risk if they have childhood trauma, mental health issues, and/or abuse.
Challenges in Reaching Every Victim:
- Hidden Victims: many victims of trafficking go unnoticed or unreported due to fear, shame, or lack of awareness. Many victims according to Polaris project did not report their situation due to being manipulated by someone who claimed to love them, while 26% of victims are those with family relationships to the exploiters. Efforts should extend beyond traditional perceptions to ensure that all individuals affected by trafficking are reached and offered support.
- Underreporting: Due to the clandestine nature of trafficking and the fear of reprisals, many victims do not report their exploitation to authorities. The UNODC estimates that the actual number of trafficking victims is significantly higher than reported cases, highlighting the challenges in reaching every victim.
- Access to Justice: Barriers to accessing justice, including language barriers, lack of legal knowledge, and distrust of law enforcement, further hinder the identification and support of victims. Strengthening legal frameworks, providing legal aid, and fostering trust between victims and authorities are crucial steps in reaching marginalized communities
- Assistance and Rehabilitation: Comprehensive support services, including medical care, counseling, safe shelters, and reintegration programs, are essential for survivors to rebuild their lives. However, resource constraints, limited capacities, and fragmented systems often impede the provision of comprehensive and sustainable support.
The Power of Collaborative Strategies:
To effectively reach every victim of trafficking, a collaborative and multi-stakeholder approach is essential:
- International Cooperation: Governments, international organizations, and civil society must collaborate to enhance cross-border cooperation, intelligence sharing, and joint operations to dismantle trafficking networks.
- Awareness and Prevention: Public awareness campaigns, education programs, and community outreach are pivotal in preventing trafficking and empowering potential victims to seek help.
- Victim-Centered Approaches: Adopting victim-centered and trauma-informed approaches ensures that survivors are at the forefront of decision-making processes, and their unique needs are addressed throughout their journey to recovery.
- Capacity Building: Building the capacity of law enforcement, social service providers, and judicial systems is crucial for effective identification, support, and protection of victims.
As we recognize World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, let us reaffirm our commitment to reaching every victim and leaving no one behind. By acknowledging the diverse vulnerabilities, addressing challenges, and adopting collaborative strategies, we can strive towards a world where the survivors of trafficking receive the support they need and deserve. Together, we can build a future free from the horrors of human trafficking.