Be part of the solution


FOR the past week the issue of human trafficking has come to the forefront of news, with the immediate promise of an investigation being launched.

Human trafficking has always been words heard, but not many people understand fully what it entails. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit.

Men, women and children of all ages and from all backgrounds can become victims of this crime, which occurs in every region of the world. The traffickers often use violence or fraudulent employment agencies and fake promises of education and job opportunities to trick and coerce their victims.

The crime of human trafficking consists of three core elements: the act, the means, the purpose. Physical and sexual abuse, blackmail, emotional manipulation, and the removal of official documents are used by traffickers to control their victims. Exploitation can take place in a victim’s home country, during migration or in a foreign country.

Almost anyone can become a victim of human trafficking, especially in this age of technology and social media.

Here are some tips to protect yourself and your loved ones against human trafficking: • Set strict privacy settings. If your social media accounts are public, then anyone can see your photos, posts and other information. Traffickers have used this information to reach out to and recruit victims. Consider setting your accounts to ‘private’ and turn off location sharing on posts.

• Beware of strange friend requests. Only accept friend or follow requests from people you know, even if you have friends in common. Traffickers have reached out to strangers to ‘chat’ via social media, and then slowly work to build trust with the potential victim.

• Do not overshare. Remember everything you put online-photos, texts, etcis in the public domain. You no longer have total control over how it is being seen or shared. Traffickers have used people’s photos and personal details to help them blackmail, contact, groom or otherwise recruit and monitor victims.

• Never share personal information, such as your phone number, address or live location online.

• Beware of advertisements that seem too good to be true. Traffickers often use catchy language in job advertisements online, promising high wages for simple work, or a chance to become a model. Traffickers will often be vague about the company’s credentials, details or your terms of employment. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Most importantly, work closely with the protective services and ensure we share any information that we may come across. Let’s be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and be part of the solution.

Nigel Seenathsingh San Fernando