Human trafficking is a complex problem.
According to the US State Department Trafficking in Persons report (2009):
“Trafficking has a broad global impact. It weakens legitimate economies, fuels violence, threatens public health and safety, shatters families, and shreds the social fabric that is necessary for progress. And it is an affront to our basic values and our fundamental belief that all people everywhere deserve to live and work in safety and dignity.”
So why is human trafficking one of the most profitable offshoots of modern day slavery? How can some people dehumanise others for their own personal gain? And why don’t governments, corporates and individuals step in to do more?
For many, I think it is because the problem is so overwhelming. But – like eating an elephant – human trafficking is best tackled one bite at a time.
At Oasis India we are trying to take down the beast through prevention rather than cure.
I firmly believe proactive early encounters and intervention (not just rescuing and rehabilitating) are key to curbing this crisis.
Prevention is better than cure
“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.” –Desmond Tutu
In the communities where Oasis India works, we place a lot of emphasis on prevention.
We engage with the communities through street awareness programmes, one-on-one mentoring, community group activities, regular sessions on child rights and safety as well as specialised counselling sessions.
All of this is aimed at empowering communities and thereby creating a safer and better future for our children.
We are trying to “swim upstream”. But many people ask us – what can I do? Here are my tips for those wanting to make an impact.
Understand the entire problem
If you haven’t seen the movie Nefarious: Merchant of Souls I highly recommend it!
It shines a light on the complexity of trafficking.
Based on extensive research, it clearly depicts how the issue is linked to belief systems, cultures, politics, economics, the underworld, porn industry and poverty.
I would also encourage everyone to undertake some independent learning – there are a lot of online resources.
If you travel a lot, find out what to look for in a potential trafficking victim so you may be able to identify them.
If you are a keen shopper, learn how to become a more informed consumer so you can avoid purchasing products that may have been made by victims of trafficking or slavery.
Matt Redman and LZ7 wrote this song posing an important question on our collective lack of responsibility:
27 million are you joking?
How could we let evil get so tight a grip?
Watching while the world falls apart
How did we let this stuff begin?
We’re not bothered if this offends
Cuz you got people that can defend
But they ain’t got that, they got nothing
Sometimes we gotta stand for something
Let this be the stand that gets your blood running.
This brings to my mind Mahatma Gandhi’s famous and oft-used saying
“Be the change you wish to see in the world”
Yes, unless we start with ourselves, and propagate our values, we won’t be able to create a wide and sustainable impact.
Educate the younger generation
By sensitising young people and children, we can create a proactive generation that will take responsibility for protecting and developing safe, thriving communities.
Transformation starts at home. It starts with dinnertime conversations, at primary school, youth gatherings and through faith communities.
Support and intervention at an early age lead to protection and development.
Change is never easy. It takes time. There are no quick fixes. Most importantly, it requires sacrifice. But I believe it will come when we all do our bit.
Author: Matt Nathaniel
Matt Nathaniel is the Acting Regional Head in South India, Oasis India. Asian Aid partners with Oasis in Chennai and Bangalore and works closely with Matt on a variety of project.