April proved to be a trying month for the UK Government’s relationship with Europe on the issue of human trafficking. The deadline for the implementation of Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims was in mid-April and, as organisations such as ECPAT have been advocating, the Government is continuing to fail to put in place adequate measures to protect victims of trafficking from prosecution. The Directive establishes minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in human trafficking and seeks to improve the protection of victims. An examination of recent cases before the Court of Appeal have shown that implicit in the UK’s approach to this issue is the fact that victims are not being identified at an early enough stage in the criminal justice process. Continue reading
In the shadow of recent child exploitation cases in the UK, policymakers have turned their attention to a spate of issues affecting vulnerable children, as Jeni Page highlighted in her post on children residing in state care homes. In conjunction, violence and exploitation experienced by teenagers is becoming more visible. Consideration has been given to an expanded definition of domestic violence, which now includes teenagers, in recognition of the types of partner violence they face, as well as the failings of the child protection system to older children. Recently, a High Court ruling, in HC (A Child,), R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Anor  EWHC 982 (Admin) (25 April 2013) addressed the practice of treating 17-year-old child suspects as adults in police stations. It also addressed the refusal by the Secretary of State to amend the relevant Police Code that enabled this treatment, despite the fact that such treatment is inconsistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and s.11 of the Children Act 2004, which recognizes the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of those under 18.
Violence tends to be categorically experienced by children or adults, lacking an examination of the continuity of the experience of violence across age. But the problems of vulnerable children are not always clearly demarcated by age or type of abuse, complicating risk management and protection. Tension exists in distinguishing between children and adults, especially as this relates to their roles as victims and perpetrators. For instance, regarding the child protection system, the Education Select Committee reported, “childcare professionals needed to understand that a teenager could be a vulnerable ‘child in need’ just as much as a young child.” And, in recognizing the disconnect between child protection and immigration policies, “trafficked children found in criminal settings must always be treated as victims and children first, and not just as criminals”. Continue reading
This week we welcome guest contributor Paul Buckley, who weighs in on human trafficking data collection. Mr. Buckley is the Regional Technical Specialist for the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP). UNIAP was established in 2000 with a central focus on human trafficking and a mandate to facilitate a stronger and more coordinated response to human trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.
Two critical problems remain in efforts to combat human trafficking: the weak evidence base on the scale of the phenomena, and systems to monitor the dynamics and flows of trafficking patterns. Much of the research currently available on prevalence and patterns can be misleading when presented without the context or caveats that often accompany detailed presentation of the data. Further, data is often taken from methodologies that are not intended to infer estimates. For example, media reports have often reported that 79% of trafficking is for sexual exploitation, based on the ‘Global Report on Trafficking in Persons’ by UNODC; rarely adding the report’s caveat that the data is of victims identified by state authorities and of convicted traffickers. With the majority of victims and traffickers not identified, the picture often presented is likely to be biased. Clarity on the problems of human trafficking, and therefore the remedies, can only come from improved data collection on the dynamics of the phenomena, and the profiles of the victims and the perpetrators. There are some strong efforts to address these issues, such as research by the Nexus Institute, the ILO’s Special Action Programme on Forced Labour, and the IOM’s Counter-Trafficking Division. However, the resources channelled to such efforts remain limited in the face of the knowledge gap they are trying to address. Continue reading
As the financial crisis in the UK becomes further entrenched, so young people face increased difficulties in accessing the labour market. In March 2013, the BBC reported that the number of young people aged 16-24 without a job rose from 945,000 to 993,000 over just three months, taking the youth unemployment rate to 21.2%. Professor Lynda Gratton of the London Business School, commented that
[of the] hordes of school and university leavers [who] enter into the global job market, the majority will become entangled in the financially draining, emotionally scarring, labyrinthine battle for employment.
She argued that “left untreated, youth unemployment is an issue set to destabilise fragile economies, become a breeding ground for extremism, and leave a generation permanently scarred.” A bleak picture indeed. Continue reading
Digital activism is permeating the anti-trafficking field. In an effort to raise awareness among a broad audience, social media, online petitions and websites such as the Slavery Map (intended to document global instances of slavery) and Slavery Footprint are being created to educate and involve the public in discussions on human trafficking. The latter website, for instance, is an interactive quiz that evaluates the extent to which the participant may be complicit in human trafficking activities in everyday life. Unfortunately, while the website taps into the oft-ignored issue of supply chains, it is accompanied by a “dramatic commercial depicting modern day slavery” that arguably detracts from the message delivered through the quiz. Cue the sex trafficked women and the cameo by Abraham Lincoln.
In any case, other impressive sounding tools, such as crowdsourcing (asking for ideas or donations from a large group of people using Facebook, for example), digital mapping (compiling data to create a virtual image, like the Slavery Map above), natural language processing (enabling computers to derive information from, for instance, advertisements for sex) and facial recognition have collided with efforts to intercept human trafficking. Continue reading
This week TTRP are pleased to present a jointly authored post with SWEAT – a sex workers rights organisation based in Cape Town, South Africa. SWEAT works to ensure that sex workers’ rights are defended, that sex workers have access to health and other services and that sex workers are respected and valued members of society. The organisation takes a rights-based approach to its work and has three central programs: Advocacy and Human Rights Defence; Outreach and Development; and Research and Knowledge Management. Their goals are to: advocate for the decriminalisation of adult sex work in South Africa; to address health and human rights abuses with sex workers; and to support the development of self-representation of sex workers on a national and continental level in issues affecting them.
TTRP and our blog guests have previously highlighted difficulties within the anti-trafficking movement, and the NGO sector more broadly, of collaboration. This lack of collaboration between stakeholders is a chorus repeated ad nauseum, but, often overlooked, are the less public, daily exchanges that take place between groups that create space for opportunity and constructive engagement. Continue reading
Detective Chief Inspector Nick Sumner from the London Metropolitan Police spoke recently at a Home Office conference on labour exploitation and UK industry about a case for which he had achieved a recent prosecution. A Romanian man with mental health issues ended up in hospital as a result of the abuse suffered during his exploitation. However, the circumstances regarding his abusive treatment were not revealed to the medical professionals treating him as his exploiters accompanied him to hospital and were acting as his interpreters. When he was eventually found by a police officer, sometime later, wandering the streets after escaping the house where he was kept, she was unable to communicate with him. It was only upon contact with the Romanian embassy that the full extent of his experience became clearer. Worryingly, it was only at this point that the police became aware that a young girl was still in the house and had been horrifically exploited for several years. This scenario serves as an example in which language functions as an inhibitor to ‘rescue’ and perpetuated a method of control over victims. Continue reading