On the World Day Against Trafficking in Human Persons, which is observed on July 30, 2021, the Pope in a tweet said, “I invite everyone to work together with the victims to transform the economy of trafficking into an economy of care.”
This year’s theme puts victims of human trafficking at the center of the campaign and will highlight the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking. The campaign portrays survivors as key actors in the fight against human trafficking and focuses on the crucial role they play in establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identify and rescue victims and support them on their road to rehabilitation.
The Holy Father has been a persistent voice calling for an end to trafficking. He raised concerns in a June 17, 2021, video message to the 109th meeting of the International Labour Organisation (ILO):
“The lack of social protection measures in the face of the impact of Covid-19 has resulted in increased poverty, unemployment, underemployment, an increase in illegal work, delay in the inclusion of young people in the labor market, which is very serious, increased child labor, even more serious, vulnerability to human trafficking, food insecurity and increased exposure to infection among populations such as the sick and elderly. I am grateful for this opportunity to set out some key concerns and observations.”
In the Philippines, an interfaith group marked the World Day Against Trafficking by calling on the government to intensify its campaign against modern slavery by addressing its root causes, reported CBCP News.
Saying that the selfishness of exploiters is just one cause of trafficking, the Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking (Pimaht) said there’s also a need to look at the economic angle.
“We especially hope that it will finally address the root causes of trafficking – create life-sustaining jobs at home and extend basic social services to the poor to enable them to better their situations,” Pimaht said.
“We also call for the government to justly prosecute its officials involved in these schemes,” it appealed.
The group stressed that the Covid-19 pandemic is creating conditions ripe for human trafficking as the economic crisis resulting from the crisis exposes the unemployed to traffickers.
Many victims of human trafficking have experienced ignorance or misunderstanding in their attempts to get help, according to the United Nations. They have had traumatic post-rescue experiences during identification interviews and legal proceedings. Some have faced revictimization and punishment for crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers. Others have been subjected to stigmatization or received inadequate support.
Learning from victims’ experiences and turning their suggestions into concrete actions will lead to a more victim-centered and effective approach in combating human trafficking.