And after all, this human trafficking phenomenon isn’t a new criminal trend. It’s existed since the beginning of documented time. But what is astonishing to me is how recently we agreed to agree that sex slavery should be punished by law.
Think about it. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defined the Palermo Protocol in 2000 and implemented it in 2003. That’s only nine years ago! And The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was passed by the U.S. Department of State in 2000.
Awareness matters. People must know. We must change perceptions.
But let’s not fool ourselves. As long as the huge discrepancy between poor and rich countries continues to exist, as long as access to justice is denied or corrupt, as long as stigma keeps women silent, and law enforcement agents take bribes or use the trafficked women as bargaining chips, we can make films, go to schools, speak until our voices grow weak and still only make a pitiful dent.
The first question we must answer is “Why is human trafficking only second to drugs in profitability?”
Then think of Henry Ford’s words: “Show me who profits from war and I will show you how to stop the war.”
Apply this to trafficking. If we, as an international community, agreed that the trafficking and selling of human beings is unacceptable and we’ve had nine years to reduce the numbers, then what else is standing in the way? Do the lives of poor women matter?
I am posing these questions because unless we honestly answer them, all of my work and the persistent effort and dedication of others in the field won’t be enough in this lifetime.
And I don’t think it is fair for the next generation should inherit one of the worst human rights abuses known to mankind. The time is now.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mimi Chakarova.