Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
A few weeks ago, we launched an Anti Human Trafficking series, where we published articles that centered around human trafficking – the data surrounding the issue, the causes and possible ways to curb human trafficking. The goal of this series was to create a knowledge that brings the realities of human trafficking into the public awareness. We hoped to explore the practice in terms of who is vulnerable, who benefits, who engineers, and possibly suggest channels and arenas in which governments and society can increase protection of all citizens from Human Trafficking.
Most articles covered how, human trafficking is a very much overlooked issue yet it’s present in our societies. Its devastating impact on the society, on families and on victims cannot go unnoticed. The number one barrier of ending human trafficking is lack of public awareness which is reflected in the general assumption that trafficking happens in other countries and continents. This ignorance appears in the basic denial of the fact that everyone is a vulnerable, and that, through one way or the other we are all in sensibly promoters of human trafficking.
The reality of human trafficking in Zimbabwe
Kuwait was the hard hit of reality. Zimbabwe woke up one day to learn that some 200 (or more) women were trafficked to Kuwait for domestic and sexual slavery through employment agencies. Sylvia Chabikwa, a survivor of trafficking shared the horrible conditions and treatment she and other women had to go through whilst in the Kuwait. Until now, there seemed to be no cases on human trafficking on Zimbabweans, at least non publicly discussed on such a huge scale. Most Zimbabweans, were aware of the struggles of citizens who decide to migrate to other countries in search of greener pastures, but most attributed these struggles to personal choice. It brings one to question whether or not the stories of Zimbabweans working in old people homes in the UK, on farms in South Africa or those caught up in sex work around the globe, are not subtle cases of human trafficking. For many years now, Zimbabwe has been a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation in the region. Kuwait was an epiphany. Kuwait was both a teacher to the ignorant and a reminder to the informed that human trafficking is a lived reality and is hidden in plain sight.
Human Trafficking centres on vulnerability
What does vulnerability mean? The dictionary meaning of vulnerability is to be susceptible to being wounded or hurt. It means one is endangered, unsafe, EXPOSED. Some of the common vulnerabilities to trafficking are economic underdevelopment, poverty, unemployment, political instability and cultural practices. However, the positives of societal growth and development create vulnerabilities as much as the negatives do. The internet, as a basic example, is a positive aspect of our societies but it exposes individuals to trafficking. Women and children are key populations that are often vulnerable, through this and other platforms, to human trafficking.
However, the biggest vulnerability is lack of of information and accurate data on human trafficking. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) warns that the human trafficking is such an illegal activity that it is difficult to track. Governments and civil society are all working on estimates that are in most cases suspected to be lower than the actual reality. Lack of information is a vulnerability because if people are not informed they are not empowered to act or protect themselves.
Human trafficking disintegrates societies
A disintegrated community is one overall impact, all others feed into this one. Human trafficking moves people, separates them from their families, changes their identities and in worst scenarios they become non entities. People disappear in a wink and without a trace. The reality is that the demography of this is growing by each day. The risk is a lack of direction, a position where lines are drawn and erased as anyone pleases. A disoriented world struggling to make it basically. So, in essence, and in that name of progressiveness, everyone is involved. Whether you are trafficked, or your family member is trafficked, or someone you know knows someone who has been trafficked, the impact is direct on our individual lives.
We are all responsible!
There are International conventions, local laws and mechanisms that various governments and international organisations have put in place to fight human trafficking. The risk of sounding technical, however, is that people distance themselves from an issue if they assume a lack of expertise. It is important to send a clear message that anyone can contribute to human trafficking without even realising it. The basic foundation to ending human trafficking is to acknowledge that, we are all responsible for fighting against human trafficking. We are agents in a way. The simplest example is the clothes we wear or the rice we eat might have been produced under modern day slavery. Therefore, if we agree that we might be unconsciously and indirectly promoting trafficking, then isn’t it true that we can stop it? The critical first step to stopping it is educating yourself on the issue. Find out how, where, under what conditions the products you consume are made. Keep yourself updated on the varying forms of human trafficking and their causes. Be up to date with the different channels of dealing with it. Being well informed ensures that one can recognise the signs of human trafficking and therefore knows the process to follow once they see the signs. Commitment and concerted efforts are key!
Main image taken from www.fscj.edu
Article written by Tendaishe ‘Tishe’ Changamire, a freelance writer passionate about gender, equality, politics and social development. She loves Africa and encourages Africans to own their narrative. Tishe is a hopeless food and book lover.