Julia she was forced to move to South Africa from Zimbabwe to be a prostitute -- a nightmare that is the fate of thousands of young girls in Africa / © Baptist Press

The 21st Century slavery that is still thriving and what you can do against it

Nelly Sarpong, Berlin-based Ghanaian-born writer, bemoans human trafficking and what we as individuals can do to combat this modern-day slavery.

Imagine going to a supermarket and seeing human beings on the stands with barcodes on them, being sold and resold as commodities. Imagine human beings being auctioned to the highest bidder. Imagine human beings as puppets being at the mercy of their puppeteer.

Now stop imagining and look around you, this is the reality on the ground. Trafficking in human beings is a business booming all over the world. Human beings are being enslaved. Their human rights are being abused.

To say slavery is a thing of the past would be completely erroneous. It is quite unfortunate that in the 21st Century slavery is still thriving, its appearance has only slightly changed. Slavery rears its ugly head in trafficking in human beings. The truth of the matter is that, trafficking is going on right under our noses but most of us are indifferent and unconcerned.

Article 3 of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, in Particular Women and Children states that trafficking is “the recruitment, transportation, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation…..”

 In order for trafficking to suffice the above must be evident. Trafficking lowers the value of humans to nothing. The victims become prisoners, from the time they wake up to the time they sleep everything is circumscribed. They lose their dignity, freedom of movement, they are arbitrarily detained, they are not recognised as persons before the law but as goods, they lose their right to express themselves freely, as if this was not enough they are sexually tortured and abused these are all infringements upon human rights which have been clearly stated under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A lot of campaigns have been initiated by United Nations Organisations, governments and NGO’s but what can we, as individuals do to help curb this parasite that is eating up the society. Firstly we have to discard the habit of indifference. Do not say “it is none of my business” it is our business. Whatever happens in the society affects everyone. Martin Luther King was right when he said,

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”.

Do not shut up or turn a deaf ear to problems occurring around you. If something suspicious is occurring in your vicinity do not hesitate to report to the police.  All over the world organisations are springing up with the aim to fight Trafficking in Human Beings, volunteer to join one of the organisations near you and participate in the fight.   

Increase your knowledge on the topic. There are so many books on shelves as well as articles in newspapers and blogs, read, read and read. No one has ever died from gaining knowledge. Be in the know. Trafficking might seem like something far off but it can happen to anybody, it can happen to a family member, a neighbour, a friend or to you, ignorance is no excuse.

Employers should organise seminars to educate employees on the issue of trafficking. Students are not excluded from the fight to end trafficking; students should come together, form groups and raise awareness in their schools. Most victims of trafficking are children; they lose their childhood, their families and their will to live due to the trauma they experience. In order to prevent more children from experiencing this fate, school clubs must aim at raising awareness.

To think that boys are not trafficked is a mistake. It is indeed rare to hear that men are trafficked but young boys form a vast majority of trafficked human beings. So in our fight against trafficking, we should ensure that young boys are given as much attention as girls and women.

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are,” Benjamin Franklin

Let’s all come together and fight for one cause. Let’s fight to end slavery, let’s fight to remove imaginary barcodes on human beings, and let’s fight to eliminate trafficking in human beings to the extent that the word “traffic” will only remind us of red, yellow, green and not the purchase and exploitation of humans.



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