18 July 2014
According to a 2012 International Labour Organisation (ILO) report, globally 20.9 million people are victims of forced labour (including sexual exploitation). This includes 5.5 million children.
Trafficking in persons refers to the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation can take many forms including sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery, servitude or removal of organs.
On 30 July 2014 the United Nations will mark the first ever World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The day is aimed at raising awareness around this global issue and to highlight the plight of the millions of women, men and children who are victims of trafficking from all corners of the world, as well as at encouraging people to take action against this crime.
Despite the UN Global Plan of Action to combat trafficking in Persons adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2010 and the passing of the recent ILO protocol on forced labour formidable challenges remain in eliminating this lucrative criminal global scourge.
At an event in Geneva to mark the inaugural day, speakers spoke of the need to prioritise the human rights and dignity of the victims, (not to see the problem as a migration issues for example), to address the root causes of the problem by supporting vulnerable families, and addressing issues of poverty, social exclusion and the widening gap between rich and poor as well as more greater international co-operation to ensure more effective law enforcement.
The role of the UN Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery in providing rehabilitation and redress to victims was also highlighted.