Traffic victims the wretched of the earth

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New Delhi, Sep 27 (UNI) A study prepared for the ongoing 53rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference here highlights the deplorable condition of women trafficking victims all over the globe as a result of the violence and coercion used against them and the huge profits made by traffickers from this unscrupulous trade.

It makes an analysis of the reasons for the growing people's trafficking across the globe and says changing migratory patterns fuelled by globalisation and international development are increasingly becoming an important factor in this regard.

'The Role of Parliamentarians in raising awareness of and curbing Human Trafficking' is a theme, which was taken up for discussion today at the Conference.

The event was inaugurated on Tuesday by President Pratibha Patil.

Trafficking today is often characterised as a modern form of slavery. Reports indicate that the number of trafficking victims, especially women and children, are multiplying at an alarming rate due to factors that include poverty, war, social disruption, natural disaster and the low status of women and girls in certain societies.

The paper says though poverty does play an important role, there is no single cause why people become vulnerable to traffickers.

''Each situation is unique. The process by which a West African child may be recruited into slavery is very different from the circumstances resulting in a Bosnian woman working in a German brothel, or indeed a Sri Lankan woman being trafficked into the Saudi Arabian labour market.'' The study has been carried out by 'Stop the Traffik', a London-based NGO, and is published in 'Data Papers' brought out on the occasion for the conference.

It says the 'promise to work' is the most common reason across the globe, which causes women to leave their families and move abroad.

In Europe, offers of work tend to be in the low paid sector such as waitressing, which pays higher wages than professional jobs in the country of origin. This is well illustrated in the Far East where a Filipino woman can earn five times the amount as a domestic servant in Hong Kong than as a teacher in her country.

The other factors which make a person resort to trafficking are -- (a) education and an opportunity to study; (b) a chance to further one's career; and (c) a chance to travel.

On the basis of interviews with 26 women in a country in Europe, (the 'POPPY' study) found that the average age at which these women had been trafficked was 22 years though the age group varied between 12 and 41 years. Often, women were trafficked between 17 and 19 years of age.

The reason for this is potentially two-fold: First, such an age group is a period in which women are likely to be more prepared to 'take risks' in order to experience the world and begin to build lives for themselves outside the family home.

Secondly, these are also the age groups where women are more likely to be manipulated. Women older than this age group are able to exert a measure of independence, though many remain vulnerable, the study says.

The biggest pitfall, however, is that people are not able to work abroad through legal schemes.

There are also cultural factors involved in trafficking.

Traffickers often exploit cultural norms of a society. For instance, in Nigeria, it is common for a child to move away from his or her parents during a period in their early teens, to live and work with their extended family members.

Depending upon where the extended family lives, a child can be sent to an adjoining village, another city or in some cases even another country. Traffickers exploit this either through kidnapping the child en route or approaching the extended family to purchase the child from them.

Victimisation often involves coercion, lying and threats.

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