World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is recognized annually on July 30. Since its inception in 2013, the day has been sanctioned as an opportunity for “raisIng awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights” (United Nations resolution).
In the wake of the economic devastation and fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe, millions of people have become even more vulnerable to falling victim to the exploitation of traffickers. As individuals struggle to make ends meet and provide even the most basic daily essentials for their families, traffickers are ready and waiting to prey on their vulnerabilities with false promises of good-paying jobs or other opportunities that seem to offer a way out of their hardships.
The 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report examines the emerging trends, challenges, and adaptations to global anti-trafficking efforts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report sends a strong message to the world that "global crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and enduring discriminatory policies and practices, have a disproportionate effect on individuals already oppressed by other injustices. These challenges further compound existing vulnerabilities to exploitation, including human trafficking. We must break this inhumane cycle of discrimination and injustices if we hope to one day eliminate human trafficking."
The fastest-growing criminal industry in the world
The sobering reality is that human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry across the globe (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). No country is immune. Traffickers prey on the most vulnerable, with an estimated 72% of detected victims being women and girls. In addition, the percentage of child victims has more than doubled from 2004 to 2016, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). While the majority of victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation, some are also trafficked for forced labor, recruitment as child soldiers, organ harvesting, and other horrific forms of abuse.
Though some traffickers may kidnap their victims or use violence or threats to force them into submission, it is more common for them to work covertly by luring individuals to unfamiliar cities or countries with false promises of work, education, or even marriage. Although traffickers use various forms of deceit, the common theme is always the illusion of a better life.
In stark contrast to what they’ve been promised, however, victims are stripped of their identification documents and cell phones during transit, enabling traffickers to control them and hinder their ability to seek help or return home. According to the UNODC, six in ten victims are trafficked across at least one international border. Traffickers intentionally move people across borders or target those who have already immigrated, to take advantage of the constraints of physical documentation, as well as the victim’s lack of familiarity with the other country’s language, culture, and surroundings.
Our strategy to stop human trafficking
There are two main anti-trafficking strategies used around the world. The first is prevention through education and awareness, and the second is rescue. The downside to the rescue strategy is that the damage has already been done, and the rehabilitation process is extremely difficult. To fight human trafficking, Love Justice sits right in the middle of these two strategies—using our transit monitoring method.
Through our transit monitoring strategy, we train and place monitors at strategic transit points to focus on identifying and assisting potential victims of trafficking as they're being trafficked but before they reach the destination where they may be in danger of being exploited and enslaved. We “intercept” someone when we have good reason to believe that they are in the process of being trafficked or at high risk of being trafficked.
To date, we've intercepted over 24,000 individuals to prevent them from being trafficked.
Since we intercept hundreds of people monthly, intervening as the crime of trafficking occurs, we are able to collect immensely valuable data on traffickers and their networks to develop actionable intelligence to target these networks with local law enforcement. To date, through our data analysis and investigations, we've helped authorities arrest over 950 suspects in connection with our anti-trafficking work.
Dismantling a trafficking network can potentially prevent hundreds of victims from being trafficked.
Where we work
We currently operate 57 transit monitoring stations staffed by over 253 local workers and have piloted transit monitoring in 19 countries: Nepal, India, Bangladesh, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Benin, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Mongolia (closed), Thailand (closed), Ghana, Rwanda, Namibia, Cambodia, Mozambique, and Lesotho. In addition, we are actively pursuing pilot projects in a number of other countries including Botswana, Zambia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Romania, Indonesia (not in blue), and Alaska.
Visit here for more in-depth information, stories, videos, insight, and data from each country where we work. You will also meet some of our team members from each country working tirelessly on the ground to stop people from being trafficked. Each country page also provides a fact sheet available to download containing a concise snapshot of the country's GDP, estimated number of slaves, key transit points traffickers use, and more.
Working together to make an impact
"World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is a day set aside on our annual calendar when we remember the testimonies of many who have been intercepted and rescued from the horrors of trafficking and slavery; we think about the vast number of those who are vulnerable to being deceived into this appalling slave trade. As part of our expansion efforts, we continue to search for the right people in the right places, wherever there is a high prevalence of trafficking and an opportunity to intercept those being trafficked and get them to safety." – LJI's European Regional Steward
As we at Love Justice International diligently assess the growing need to create and implement innovative strategies to stop traffickers and prevent people from becoming victims, we realize we have the opportunity to make a tremendous impact in the days ahead. We are determined to be ready on the front lines to protect the dignity and freedom of all people in danger of becoming a victim of this horrific crime.
Visit here to learn how you can get involved and make a powerful impact in the fight to end modern-day slavery and keep people free.
*All content, data, and statistics current at the date and time of publishing.