The fastest growing criminal enterprise in the 20th century is not drugs or arms dealing, but human trafficking – the most common form of modern-day slavery. An estimated 800,000 victims are trafficked through international borders every year, and an unknown additional number trafficked domestically. Human trafficking victims are recruited to be controlled and held captive for the purpose of exploitation – usually forced labour or sexual exploitation. Approximately 80% of trafficked victims are women and girls. Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.
July 30th has been designated by the United Nations as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.” In 2016 UNODC seeks to promote a better understanding and a greater engagement throughout the international community on the vulnerabilities that lie behind every case of human trafficking and the exploitation suffered by every victim of this crime.
Oak Foundation currently supports around 15 organisations dedicated to combating human trafficking and supporting victims. These organisations work around the world on issues such as child labour in Ethiopia (Emmanuel Development Association), providing legal services and help lines to trafficking victims in Switzerland (e.g. Centre Social Protestant) or improving the quality of life for victims of human trafficking in the United Kingdom (e.g. Kalayaan). ASTRA and Women’s Link Worldwide, highlighted below, are two of our partners working tirelessly on this issue. To find out about Oak’s other partners in the area visit our grant database.
ASTRA is a Serbian grassroots NGO dedicated to the eradication of all forms of trafficking in human beings, especially in women and children. As the first actor to raise the issue of human trafficking in Serbia, ASTRA applies a holistic approach to the human trafficking problem paying attention to raising public awareness and educating government and civil society about the issue. In the past few months alone, ASTRA has organised seminars, conferences, workshops, a round table, trainings and panel discussions covering a broad range of related topics. ASTRA was also involved in policy development with the United Nations. To mark the World Day against Trafficking in Persons ASTRA has published analysis of the position of human trafficking victims in court proceedings in 2015. To find out more, visit its website and check out its newsletters.
Women’s Link Worldwide is an international organisation fighting against the trafficking of women in Europe and Latin America. Its work includes documenting and mapping violations, setting and implementing standards and building alliances with other organisations working on these issues. Women’s Link seeks to find innovative ways to advance the rights of trafficking victims and bring human rights violations experienced by victims to light. To find out more, visit its website.
This year, on the World Day against Trafficking, thousands of people around the world will unite to fight against the injustice of trafficking, and show their support for the approximately 30 million people who are victims of forced labour and sexual exploitation right now.
There are lots of ways you can get involved in helping raise awareness about trafficking:
Take a photo of yourself or a friend forming a heart and share it using the #igivehope across social media. It’s simple but it symbolises offering hope to trafficking victims.
Join and follow the Blue Heart Campaign against Human Trafficking (@BlueHeartHT)
Take the freedom challenge (register today) to help experience some of what it must been to be exploited and to reflect on the freedoms we so often take for granted:
Visit this website to find out more:
 Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking, About the Issue, 2016.
 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2014.