The right to work is a basic human right. Striping someone the ability to make a fair wage for their labor and worse yet forcing or coercing them into such labor under false promises for little to no pay and against that person’s will, strips away an individual’s dignity and right to self-determination. The crime of human trafficking in all its forms is a direct violation of human rights and a grave affront humanity.
Forced labor or labor trafficking is noted as “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily.” (ILO, Forced Labor Convention, 1930)
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), Walk Free Foundation and IOM, there are an estimated 24.9 million people trapped in forced labor. Labor trafficking includes sectors such as domestic work and industries such as agriculture, construction, food service and hospitality. It can also be present in subcontracted work and supply chain relationships, which makes transparency and accountability at every level key in truly taking a stand against human trafficking.
Vulnerability is a main factor that traffickers will look to exploit that intersect with certain risk factors, as noted by HSI, such as unstable immigration status, language barriers, poverty and lack of basic needs like food, shelter, and safety. They can also include “lack of social support systems like friends, family, and community, the psychological effects of a recent or past trauma and physical or developmental disabilities.”
July 30th is designated as the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. It is an international call for everyone including those in government, “international organizations, civil society organizations and the private sector to increase and support prevention efforts, in countries of origin, transit, and destination by focusing on the demand that fosters all forms of trafficking and the goods and services produced as a result of trafficking in persons.” (UN Resolution A/RES/68/192).
What can you do where you are to help prevent vulnerabilities that may lead to human trafficking situations? How can you contribute to help ensure the dignity of others in earning a living?
Read more on Labor Trafficking and how to recognize the signs: https://polarisproject.org/labor-trafficking/
Understanding Human Trafficking:
Monthly column written for St. Joseph Catholic Church, Tampa, FL