Trafficking scourge – 08 Mar 2023

MODERN-DAY slavery takes different forms. In many places, it eludes attention because of the craf ty methods employed to impose it. Trafficking in persons (TIP) involves the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons through the use of threat, force, deception and coercion with the purpose of exploitation. It is a crime locally and internationally, and a crime against an individual or individuals. Victims either have not given their consent, or any initial consent they gave has become meaningless because of the deception and violence used against them. Vulnerable persons usually go through many cycles of violence before traffickers exploit them.

The primary aim of such exploitation is to generate income. Trades that promote and use human trafficking include prostitution, escort work, pornography, forced labour (including farming, construction, tourism and domestic labour and organ harvesting). Trafficked persons can be used for transporting illegal items and committing crimes. It is important not only to observe the geographical and demographic patterns of TIP but also the different sections of society affected by it.

Globally, it is a crime against men, women and children that is shaped by their country`s circumstances. The inequalities faced in income, location, ethnicity, age and gender define the exploitation.

Even though many men fall victim to TIP, girls and women are disproportionately affected. Since gender defines access to power and resources, it is essential to apply a gender lens when discussing TIP. It especially helps law enforcers understand how the experiences of both men and women are shaped because of their gender.

Integrating the gender perspective means giving distinct attention to gender imbalances and biases.

Gender inequalities have their roots in the social and cultural norms of a specific area. The distribution of power in social and economic contexts plays a pivotal role in defining gender roles. Gender discrimination and gender-based violence predispose girls and women to becoming victims of violence. In fact, GBV and TIP intersect at many points. The physical and emotional trauma of GBV increases a victim`s vulnerability, which traffickers use to their advantage to further exploit the victim. Forced marriages, the barter of girls or women and abusive relationships make them an easy prey for organised crime.

Financial inequalities and lack of access to technology, skill and opportunity renders them almost paralysed.

Most victims of trafficking are also victims of GBV. `Intersectionality` is a termused to indicate that all oppression is linked. It is an acknowledgment that everyone has their own experience of discrimination and that everything that can marginalise them on the basis of gender, race, class, religion, physical ability, etc, must be taken into account.

The profile of trafficked girls and women shows that they find themselves unable to break free from the cycle of exploitation.

They believe violence against them is to be expected and blame themselves for their stigmatisation. They also hesitate to report it to law-enforcement officers out of fear of not being believed.

Understanding the profile of the offender also helps in finding probable victims of trafficking. According to a UNODC report on TIP, there are two broad categories of traffickers. First are those who are members of organised criminal networks, and then there are the smalltime local criminals operating in isola-tion. The offender is usually a person the victim trusts or a relative. Both men and women worl( as traffickers and resort to threat, fear, deception and financial fraud to trap vic-tims. In conservative communities, it is mostly women who are the facilitators or traffickers.

For members of the criminal justice system, it is necessary to recognise intersectionality and disregard the misperceptions related to victims. The violence experienced must not be minimised or used to suggest that the victim`s own behaviour contributed to it. Dismantling gender bias must be achieved through reviewing procedures and the training of members of the criminal justice system. Inter-agency coordination in overlapping jurisdictions of the federal and provincial governments brings positive results in lessening TIP.

At the level of government, strategies against TIP can be formulated based on laws and their implementation. A country`s geographical position can help evolve joint action plans with neighbouring countries.

The local context of socioeconomic realities must be included in creating a national and regional interface to curb trafficking in persons. Mapping of internal trafficking and identifying patterns are also crucial steps in the prevention and detection of trafficking in persons. m The writer is a police officer: Twitter: @MariaTaimurPSP

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