Kudos to new centre to combat global human trafficking

11Apr 2021
Editor
The Guardian
Kudos to new centre to combat global human trafficking

Human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others.. This may encompass providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage,  or the extraction of organs or tissues,-

-including for surrogacy and ova removal.  Human trafficking can occur within a country or trans-nationally.

Human trafficking is a crime against the person because of the violation of the victim's rights of movement through coercion and because of their commercial exploitation.  Human trafficking is the trade in people, especially women and children, and does not necessarily involve the movement of the person from one place to another.  

People smuggling (also called human smuggling and migrant smuggling) is a related practice which is characterized by the consent of the person being smuggled.  Smuggling situations can descend into human trafficking through coercion and exploitation.  Trafficked people are held against their will through acts of coercion, and forced to work for or provide services to the trafficker or others.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), forced labour alone (one component of human trafficking) generates an estimated $150 billion in profits per annum as of 2014.    The   Organisation has reported that child workers, minorities, and irregular migrants are at considerable risk of more extreme forms of exploitation. Statistics shows that over half of the world's 215 million young workers are observed to be in hazardous sectors, including forced sex work and forced street begging.  

Ethnic minorities and highly marginalised groups of people are highly estimated to work in some of the most exploitative and damaging sectors, such as leather tanning, mining, and stone quarry work.  Human trafficking is the third largest crime industry in the world, behind drug dealing and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing activity of trans-national criminal organizations.  Human trafficking is condemned as a violation of human rights by international conventions.  

Each year, an estimated 800,000 people are trafficked globally, though the true number may be higher. In a quest to arm officials and stakeholders around the globe with more accurate and trusted data to better understand and address this global problem, the University of Georgia has established a new interdisciplinary centre to combat human trafficking through research, programming and policy development.

The Centre on Human Trafficking Research and Outreach will be housed in the School of Social Work, and David Okech, an associate professor at the school, will serve as the centre’ first director.

This collaborative effort aims to identify better ways to measure the prevalence of trafficking while crafting real-world solutions to best equip nongovernmental organisations and policymakers with the tools and information they need to combat trafficking.

They have been part of the African Programming and Research Initiative to End Slavery, known as APRIES, which is providing the foundation for the transition into a centre.“Science is always a building block,” Okech said. “You build it up, and sometimes it’s big and sometimes it’s small, but you keep building. Through the centre, we want to let the research speak for itself. If particular research or methodologies work, good, and if it doesn’t, then we need to think about what else could work because right now we don’t know what really works well in terms of estimation methods and generating reliable data that can inform anti-trafficking policies and programs.”

 Human trafficking and modern slavery are large, complex problems that require solutions from multiple perspectives to address

Research, policy and programming work is being done in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Senegal. In Brazil, Costa Rica, Morocco, Pakistan, Tanzania and Tunisia, the centre is collaborating with U.S.-based and local  researchers to test and validate the existing methods of human trafficking prevalence estimation through the Prevalence Reduction Innovation Forum programme.

“Human trafficking is a multidimensional and complex problem,” Okech added. “It is important to address the root causes of trafficking by focusing on the drivers and facilitators of the phenomenon.”

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