Trafficking in persons is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights. Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.
Most countries have national human trafficking laws but still people continue to be trafficked. To fight this heinous crime, in 2013 the United Nations General Assembly declared the 30 July as the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
This year the focus is on the first responders to human trafficking: the people who work in different sectors – identifying, supporting, counselling and seeking justice for victims of trafficking and challenging the impunity of the traffickers.
On the Day, both the international community and civil society have the opportunity to reflect on what each of us can do to decrease vulnerabilities to trafficking, or the risks that follow from such vulnerabilities.
The long history of human trafficking
People are trafficked for multiple reasons: sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced begging, forced marriage, selling children as child soldiers, as well as for removal of organs. Sexual exploitation is the most common form of exploitation followed by forced labour.
Globally countries are detecting and reporting more victims and are convicting more traffickers than ever before. This might be the result of increased capacity to identify victims and/or the increased number of trafficked victims. In 2016, the total number of detected victims reported to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was 25,000.
“We need to do more to protect trafficking victims and prevent vulnerable people from being exploited by criminals. On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, let us pledge to work for inclusive societies and economies that leave no one behind”, United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres said to mark the day.
The COVID-19 & human trafficking
The COVID-19 crisis has made the role of first responders to human trafficking even more vital, particularly as the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have made their work even more difficult.
“Like the frontline heroes saving lives and sustaining our societies in the COVID-19 pandemic, these providers are keeping vital services going throughout the crisis – identifying victims, ensuring their access to justice, health, social assistance and protection, and preventing further abuse and exploitation”, Guterres stated.
Secretary-General Guterres emphasized how the COVID-19 pandemic has left millions of people at greater risk of being trafficked. In addition, the pandemic is hitting women and girls the hardest, who already account more than 70% of detected human trafficking.
How you can get involved?
- Join the conversation and use the hashtags #EndHumanTrafficking and #HumanTrafficking on social media.
- Highlight the work of first responders in your country, community or organization.
- Donate to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking, which provides on-the-ground assistance and protection to victims of trafficking.
- Join the Blue Heart campaign that is an awareness-raising initiative to fight human trafficking and its impacts on society.
- On the 30 July, livestream a live virtual concert organized by UNODC. All the money raised will go to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons.
Read more about the day here.