THE increase in the number of human trafficking cases is a huge cause for concern.Often described as modern-day slavery, it is a scourge in most countries.The stories are almost the same everywhere. Victims are deceived into accepting job offers that promise a better life.Instead, they find themselves trapped in a cycle of physical and psychological abuse, as in the case of 47 Malaysians arrested in Cambodia on suspicion of being members of an international online gambling syndicate.According to the United Nations, more than 130 countries have been identified as transit or destination countries for human trafficking.
Victims come from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, with varied levels of education.Traffickers target their victims using tailored methods of recruitment and control to force them into labour or commercial sex.Traffickers target poor and marginalised communities with the promise of jobs and a better life.Traffickers maintain an online presence to lure vulnerable adults and children with the goal of meeting them in person, to take and circulate explicit photos, and coerce them into complying with their demands.
Understanding the risk factors for victims can help one to intervene before it is too late.Many people think that human trafficking is similar to kidnapping, or the sale of women and children by terrorists or domestic helpers turned into slaves in wealthy familes. It is more than that.It is an issue of supply chain. Traffickers target vulnerable workers to fill labour shortages in a supply chain.In the electronics sector, human trafficking exist in the extractive stages (where raw material is mined), the component manufacturing stage (where separate pieces are produced or combined) and the production stage (where goods are assembled and packaged in a factory).
Education and creating awareness of human trafficking can reduce cases. Awareness of human trafficking should start in primary schools. If children have age-appropriate information, it will protect them.Not only the young need to be educated about human trafficking, parents, grandparents, educators and healthcare professionals also need to be roped in.
Human trafficking is a health, security and moral issue. It erodes political systems and harms communities.It could happen anywhere, any time, in secrecy or in the open. You would not even be aware of it if you don’t know the signs.The more you know, the more you will be alert and prevent it. We have to get involved and save the innocent.
OSWALD TIMOTHY EDWARD
Faculty of Business and Management, UiTM Johor