Trafficking for dummies

To clear up some trafficking myths, here is a short trafficking for dummies.

‘Trafficking only happens to dummies’

It’s an easy assumption, how on earth would you otherwise end up in a situation where you let a person ‘lure’ you to come and live in another country where you will get a good job or education? Didn’t you see it coming that you would be locked up and become a forced labourer or sexually exploited? People do desperate things when they live under desperate circumstances. Sometimes the situation is not so desperate, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a better opportunity and have a chance at a better life?

Unfortunately a lot of people who get ‘trafficked’ may start the process themselves. They make a conscience decision to get trafficked as they have a wish to migrate for work and economic opportunities, but have no way to do this legally. Migration, immigration laws prevent people from free movement between countries. They indebt themselves with a trafficker and think they can ‘control’ the situation, but this is where it goes wrong. False promises based on genuine hope, leave a person trapped in a situation they cannot ‘control’ anymore. They are stuck and have to suffer terrible consequences.

‘Trafficking = prostitution’

This is probably the most abused argument to fight trafficking and curtail prostitution and the rights of sex workers. Yes, people who are trafficked can end up in forced prostitution. And yes this is wrong and needs to be stopped. But, no, when you give sex workers rights, that doesn’t mean that you encourage trafficking or increase prostitution.

‘Trafficking doesn’t happen in my backyard’

Trafficking takes place in the realm of criminality and as I said in my previous blog there are a number of conditions that increase the likelihood and vulnerability for people to being trafficked and engage in trafficking. Trafficking is unfortunately a worldwide issue, and next to arms trading it is one of the most lucrative businesses to be in. And I can (probably…) safely say that you won’t be interested in exploiting anyone for free, and neither do I want to do this, but I cannot say, and neither can you that your 100% sure that none of your clothes were made in bonded labour (unless you make all of them from underwear to socks yourself). A demand for cheap clothes, requires cheap labour, or even ‘better’ free labour. So next time you think clothes are so cheap you cannot believe it, perhaps there’s a reason for it. And this just one example.

‘A victim who is rescued, should press charges’

When people get out of their situation, they often don’t want to press charges. Traffickers can have ties back home (and go unpunished there), what if they hurt your family? What if they make it impossible for you to return when you press charges? What if you still owe them money? Will they come after you again? And yes it sounds good to be rescued, but if you get rescued and locked up afterwards to get ‘rehabilitated into society’ or marked as ‘threat to national security and deported back to where you came from’ your situation has not improved. And perhaps there’s a reason you don’t want to return home. There are still no opportunities. There are many reasons why pressing charges and returning are not an option. The option should of course always be offered, but unless a person’s rights are fully respected and they will be able to be safe and decide themselves what is best in their own interest, chances are this won’t happen.

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