Human trafficking: How close to us is it?

Human trafficking: How close to us is it?

 

Human trafficking seems like a crime away from our reality. But, the truth is, it is so close that we often cannot see it.

Although there are people more vulnerable to this crime than others, human trafficking can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity, economic status, level of education, inside or outside their country. Victims of trafficking are as varied as the forms the crime can take: labor exploitation, sexual exploitation, forced begging or forced crimes. Human trafficking can be present in all sectors.

People in organizations that deal with human trafficking cases painfully discover how human rights are violated in different regions and countries. One of the people working in this area is Dayan Corrales, Technical Assistance and Protection Specialist at the IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean. Dayan supports the assistance of trafficking cases firsthand, and has met many people who have been victims of this crime. She shared the following story:

Ana* was a young, professional woman, who had university studies and a great job profile. She was living in a country in Central America when a company in another continent contacted her through her social networks, showing interest in hiring her. It was a consolidated company, with a good profile and offices in different countries.

The first thing Ana did after receiving the offer was to carry out an investigation on the internet about the company. After verifying that everything seemed to be in order, she sent her curriculum. She had several interviews in English with the people who wanted to hire her, and when she was told she was the selected candidate, she decided to travel to the other side of the world for her new job.

Ana was excited by the prospect of being able to work abroad. Who doesn't dream of working in a foreign country? She would get to see new things, advance her career and open doors for her future.

A few weeks later, she undertook the trip. Upon arriving in the new country, a car from the company was waiting for her at the airport, with the logos of the office on the sides. A person from the company was holding a sign with her name, welcoming her.

Upon arrival at the hotel, this person asked for her passport to complete the necessary procedures to start work the next day. He told Ana that he would pick her up the next morning to take her to the office and start technical training. She handed over her documents and eagerly went up to her room where she took a bath, drank a coffee and waited for the next day.

Just as promised, they picked her up at the hotel in the same car, but to her surprise the final destination was not what she expected. When she got out of the car, she was not in front of a company, but in front of a bar. The next three months of her life would be a nightmare.

Ana was sexually exploited at the bar, being the victim of all kinds of abuse and violence. They beat her and raped her regularly. She had strict meal and work schedules ... All the forms of violence that we are terrrified to imagine were a part of her reality.

But how was she going to escape? She was in a strange country with a foreign language, without her identification documents and with no one to contact to help her. In addition, her exploiters extorted her with all the information they had about her. After all, they knew where she lived, and who her friends and family were through their social networks. They told her that if she tried to escape, they would kill her and her loved ones.

After three months of abuse, Ana could no longer stand it. She felt that her life had been stolen. If she escaped, she was at risk of being killed, but she already felt dead. So one day she took the risk and in an oversight she managed to escape. She was finally able to free herself from that nightmare and get help to return to her country and resume her life as it was before.

Ana's story is harrowing, but it is also necessary to know. Not only does it teach us that anyone can be a victim of trafficking, but it also helps us identify some warning signs:

  • Be careful with offers that seem perfect or too good to be true.
  • Deception is one of the most common means used to attract victims of human trafficking.
  • The use of power is also a highly used means of controlling victims, involving the use of force, threats or other forms of coercion.

*The name has been changed to protect the person involved

 


7 recommendations to promote the inclusion of migrants in host communities through social and cultural activities.

Categoria: Pacto Mundial sobre Migración
Autor: Carlos Escobar

The promotion of social and cultural activities as a mechanism to encourage interaction between migrants and host communities with the aim of advancing in the construction of more just and peaceful societies, is currently a topic of special interest in studies, policies and programs on migrant inclusion and social cohesion.

Taking Intergroup Contact Theory (IGCT) as a reference, different researches argue that the interaction of people from different places and contexts, under the right circumstances, favors trust and the change of xenophobic or discriminatory perceptions. Thus, intergovernmental agreements such as the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration have integrated this perspective into their theoretical and conceptual body. In particular, Goal 16 "Empower migrants and societies to achieve full inclusion and social cohesion", calls for the creation of community centres or programs at the local level to facilitate the participation of migrants in the receiving society by engaging migrants, community members, diaspora organizations, migrant associations and local authorities in intercultural dialogue, exchange of experiences, mentoring programs and the creation of business linkages that enhance integration outcomes and foster mutual respect.

Based on the analysis and review of different research, the IOM, in its publication The Power of Contact: Designing, Facilitating and Evaluating Social Mixing Activities to Strengthen Migrant Integration and Social Cohesion Between Migrants and Local Communities – A Review of Lessons Learned, proposes a series of recommendations, based on empirical evidence, to encourage the participation of migrants and receiving communities in social and cultural activities.

1). Fun and goal-oriented

Designing and incorporating fun and exciting activities leads to a lighter and more welcoming environment for people to meet, interact and create social bonds. At the same time, setting common goals, which neither group can achieve without the participation of the other (cooperative interdependence), makes the activities more engaging and participatory.

2). Mutual appreciation

Participants should understand, recognize and appreciate culture, traditions and history as part of the process of bridging differences, maximizing each other's strengths and identifying commonalities. It is important that all individuals are able to identify how their contributions can have a positive impact on the achievement of common goals.

3). Shared ownership

Involving migrants and local communities in all phases of activities will increase their participation. This ownership empowers them, raises their self-esteem and opens up new opportunities for responsibility and commitment.

4). Guided Reflection

Dialogues and activities that allow for a certain degree of reflection help to create an atmosphere that is perceived as trusting, friendly and warm. Processing information and sharing personal and sensitive stories, which can evoke memories, are of utmost importance as long as they are carefully guided and accompanied by facilitators or project members.

5). Supervision and Trust Facilitation

Those responsible for group interactions, such as team leaders, facilitators, project staff or event planners, must play an active role in promoting equality within intergroup relations and creating an inclusive environment for all. This deliberate effort is crucial to overcome the natural tendency of participants to group themselves according to their most salient characteristics and status.

6). Sustained and regular intervention

It goes without saying that the more frequent, prolonged and intensive the participation, the better the attitude of each individual towards others. This means adopting an approach that rethinks the role of the people involved, who in turn will define the needs of their communities and ultimately take part in the design and organization of appropriate interventions.

7). Institutional support and partnership

The support of institutions such as local governments, media, government agencies and intermediary organizations is critical to promoting and facilitating constructive efforts to strengthen intergroup relations. The coordination of these institutions creates a system that can provide resources and incentives to promote and strengthen intergroup relations.

Social and cultural activities, understood as a programmatic intervention strategy to facilitate the inclusion of migrants in receiving communities, are important to the extent that they offer non-institutional spaces for interaction, where through spontaneous human contact, social ties are built based on experiences, stories, emotions and life trajectories of the participants. This facilitates the generation of trust between individuals, greater degrees of social cohesion and, of course, peaceful coexistence in communities, understood not only as the absence of conflict, but also as a positive, dynamic and participatory process in which dialogue is promoted and conflicts are resolved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation, through the acceptance of differences, the ability to listen, recognize, respect and appreciate others. (UN, 2021).