Of all the crimes which confront humanity today, perhaps, none is more graphic than human trafficking, especially in Africa where almost every event that happens in the present, can go all the way back to reopen past wounds.
Perhaps, of all those crimes, none prods old wounds more than human trafficking which in commoditizing people repeats the darkest tales of the slave trade.
A bazaar of bodies.
The tales told are often as haunting as they are harrowing: they are of children taken away from their poverty-stricken but peaceful homes after promises of better lives have been made to them, only to be turned into commodities in foreign lands with no one to come to their aid when they need it most; of young boys and girls traded by criminal gangs and used as sex slaves in a crime that shames us all.
The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons only came into effect in December 2003, but it has inspired widespread legislative response. As of November 2008, 63 % of the 15 countries and territories this report had passed laws against trafficking addressing the major forms of trafficking
According to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. The victims of sexual exploitations are predominantly women and girls. Surprisingly, in 30% of the countries which provided information on the gender traffickers, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers. In some parts of the world, women trafficking is the norm.
The second most common form of human trafficking is forced labour (18%) although this may be a misrepresentation because forced labour is less frequently detected and reported than trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Worldwide, almost 20% of all trafficking victims are children. However, in some parts of Africa and the Mekong region, children are the majority(up to 100% in parts of West Africa).
Although trafficking seems to imply people moving across continents, most exploitation takes place close to home. Data shows intra-regional and domestic trafficking are the major forms of trafficking in persons.
The United Nations Protocol against Trafficking in Persons – the foremost international agreement in this area – entered into force in 2003. The Report shows that in the past few years the number of Member States seriously implementing the Protocol has more than doubled( from 54 to 125 out of the 155 States covered).
Human trafficking remains a grave stain on humanity, one which continues to shame us all. Over the years, technology has also been shown as a tool that can both enable and impede human trafficking.
With the global expansion in the use of technology – intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift of everyday life to online platforms, the crime of human trafficking has also conquered the cyberspace.
The internet and digital platforms offer traffickers numerous tools to recruit, exploit and control victims, organize their transport and accommodation, advertise victims, organize their transport and reach out to potential clients, communicate among perpetrators, and hide criminal proceeds – and all that with greater speed, cost-effectiveness and anonymity.
But technology can only help to halt human trafficking in its tracks. Future success in eradicating human trafficking will depend on how law enforcement, the criminal justice systems and others can leverage technology in their responses including by aiding investigations to shed light on the modus operandi of trafficking networks; enhancing prosecutions through digital evidence to alleviate the situation of victims in criminal proceedings; and providing support services to survivors.
Prevention and awareness-raising activities o the safe use of the internet and social media could help mitigate the risk of people falling victim to trafficking online.
At its core, eradicating human trafficking remains a question of justice. Achieving it would be a win for justice.