Updated: Aug 27
Human trafficking is the single most lucrative organized crime area and, with an annual revenue of around $150 billion, it continues to thrive.
The “modern slavery” we see today, otherwise known as human trafficking, is still very much alive. It is by far the most prevalent in South East Asia, where you can find more than two thirds of all of the victims - roughly 25 million people - of human trafficking in the world.
Human trafficking does not only mean sexual exploitation. It is any “act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.” So, this also includes forced labor, debt bondage, involuntary domestic servitude, forced child labor, trafficking of children for forced begging, sex trafficking, forced marriage and organ removal trafficking.
Human trafficking is the single most lucrative organized crime area and, with an annual revenue of around $150 billion, it continues to thrive. It is mostly concentrated in South East Asia due to the large amount of migration as a result of extreme poverty that is characteristic of this region.
Some countries in the South East Asian region are considered destination places while other countries move victims to those destinations. Thailand is a destination country that victims from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar are sent to while Malaysia is the main destination for victims from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
But why is this still going on today?
Let´s look at Cambodia and human trafficking. This crime happens in Cambodia mainly for two reasons: women trying to migrate to other places to search for better jobs opportunities and there is limited law enforcement officers and agencies to prevent human trafficking from taking place.
The most common scenario is a South East Asian woman will try to migrate to a different country, such as Thailand, China, Japan or Malaysia, after receiving a job offer that promises better wages and working conditions. But, sometimes the job offers these women accept are actually hidden human trafficking rings.
Once the woman travels to the site of where they are told they will be working, they find that it is not what they have been promised and are then forced into working for an illegal company.
Other times, women are kidnapped or sold into brothels by relatives. There has also been an increase in people being displaced from their homes by war or natural disasters, which makes people, more so women and children than men, extremely vulnerable to human trafficking.
Because of the inefficiency and corruption in the legal system of Cambodia, and other South East Asian countries, police do very little to protect victims. Police officers do not have the skills or resources to effectively handle human trafficking cases. Furthermore, they are often paid off by trafficking ring leaders to turn a blind eye or even help move people, who give them much more money than they are earning as part of the police force.
The key to eliminating human trafficking once and for all is education. If more women had access to a quality education in South East Asia, an education that completely and totally prepared them for future careers, then they would not be so trapped by their society.
With 49% of the population being under 30 years old (Cambodia Demographic Health Survey, 2010), Cambodia’s present generation is growing up without access to a good quality education. These kids are the future of the country and deserve to have opportunities other than the violence and injustices that surround them.
However, it is incorrect to say that Cambodia is doing nothing to help end human trafficking. The country has been trying to improve the situation by bettering their law enforcement system and further educating people on the issue so that they know how to prevent themselves and those around them from falling victim to it. But much more needs to be done.
The current state of Cambodia leaves impoverished women with the only option to look for work outside of the country and this is where they become especially vulnerable to human trafficking.
Education is the key to giving women more alternatives to human trafficking, so that they feel empowered to break the cycle and create a better future for themselves.
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