28 July, 2017
Raising awareness: World Day Against Trafficking in Persons
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash
“I was promised a good job with a house and that I wouldn’t have to worry about anything,” said Flor, a survivor of human trafficking (watch the video below produced by Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST). “But I wasn’t able to talk to anybody or put even one foot out of the shop. I had to work 17 hours a day, 7 days a week and I couldn’t even talk to my co-workers. My trafficker often said that dogs have more rights in the United States than I did – she said ‘if I kill a dog I will be in trouble, but if I kill you nobody will know or care’.”
With an estimated 21 million people victims of human trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation globally, and 50,000 people trafficked into the US each year alone, human trafficking remains the world’s most common form of modern-day slavery and an issue facing many countries around the globe. The United Nations has designated 30 July 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”.
There are many complex and interconnected factors fuelling human trafficking and the consequences of trafficking are equally diverse. Oak Foundation’s Issues Affecting Women Programme focuses a large portion of their work on combatting human trafficking and ensuring justice for trafficked victims such as Flor. The Programme is committed to supporting initiatives that prevent trafficking and exploitation by raising awareness of the patterns and factors that lead to trafficking and exploitation, and engaging with and empowering groups of women most at risk: women migrants; sex workers; and domestic workers. Currently Oak supports around 15 organisations whose work centres on supporting survivors and victims of human trafficking. These include CAST, Women’s Link WorldWide (WLW) and the Global Alliance against Traffic in Women (GAATW).
Flor is just one of the thousands of survivors whom CAST has empowered in Los Angeles, the US, by providing her and many like her with emergency housing, food, aid and ongoing emotional and physical support. The organisation was founded more than two decades ago with the goal of empowering survivors to overcome their traumatic pasts and become leading voices in shaping policy and public awareness. Ultimately CAST aims to put an end to the fastest growing criminal enterprise of the 21st century. To find out more, watch the video below, which outlines its background, work and future goals.
WLW is an international organisation that uses the power of law to promote social change to advance the human rights of women and girls. WLW works on a variety of issues, including human trafficking, where it ensures that the legal framework to help combat it is in place and upheld. WLW believes that the only legal framework that should be used to combat trafficking is a human rights framework. This is because WLW prioritises the protection of victims as its main objective above immigration control and criminal law.
Founded in 1994, GAATW is a global network of non-governmental organisations who share a deep concern for the women, children and men whose human rights have been violated by the criminal practice of human trafficking. GAATW is particularly well known for its work around movement-building against human trafficking and its holistic view towards the complexities surrounding the issue. GAATW works on advocacy, particularly at the international level, and carries out research which ultimately helps to shape and shift global anti-trafficking discourse. To find out more about GAATW’s extensive work, visit its website.