The following is an interview with an IOM officer who has been involved in the fight against Trafficking in Persons for nearly 8 years.
What case has struck you the most and why?
The case about 5 women from South America was very difficult. They were deceived in their home countries with promises of working in Honduras, but they were victims of human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation. Along with the National Migration Institute, IOM provided them with assistance and protection through food, clothing and healthcare. I even had the chance to go with one of the young girls to her medical examination together with the Consul-General of her country. I witnessed the feelings of worry and tension she had because she was afraid about possible harm to her family. This resulted in fainting spells and weakness.
What do you like most about working on this issue?
I like to help people. “Wearing the IOM hat” allows me to help to get closer to people and provide assistance with the counseling and guidance they need. It really fills my heart with joy.
Which are the main regional challenges on this manner?
One of these challenges is to help girls and boys, youth and adults learn about Trafficking in Persons and how to prevent it; institutions providing this kind of assistance and guidance, as well, must learn about this issue and empower themselves. During these years I have seen there is a lack of knowledge about this matter. I still hear people say “white slave trade” and if this kind of ignorance exists, people won’t be able to assist victims of Trafficking in Persons. It is necessary to strengthen existing coalitions at the regional level, share the good practices and sign agreements that will benefit identified victims of this crime.
What is your own personal commitment to this issue?
My commitment is to share my knowledge about Trafficking in Persons with people, whether they’re family members, acquaintances, or institutions, about its risks, its purposes and its objective.
Since you started working against Trafficking in Persons, what is the most significant thing that has changed your life?
To be aware of this important issue. If it was not the case, I don’t think I could provide assistance with dignity to people or help them as much as I can.
Could you give us some final remarks on the International Day against Trafficking in Persons:
I think we must be spokespeople for the oppressed. There is still hard work to be done against Trafficking in Persons in all countries because the number of victims/survivors is still greater than the number of already identified or assisted persons.
About the author:
Dayan Corrales-Morales works for the Migrant Assistance Division where she provides technical support on issues related to return migration and Trafficking in Persons. She has degrees in sociology, philosophy and project management, and she has extensive experience on gender and interculturality issues. In addition, she has carried out research with public universities in Costa Rica. Twitter: @dayancm1