By +SocialGood Connector Alejandra Acosta
Today there are more slaves in the world than ever before in the story of humanity.
Today, more than ever, it is crucial to understand how human trafficking works — both in Spain and around the globe — as well as why we have not protected the fundamental rights of so many people. Spanish government reports expose that more than 45,000 women and girls are at risk to be sexually exploited and 17,000 persons are at risk to be victims of labor trafficking in the country.
These numbers come along with names and surnames, because they are people’s lives. There should be enough to generate prevention activities against human trafficking, such as an active prosecution of the crime that really protects victims and a mobilization of resources for their social reintegration and the reparation of the damage.
Sadly, this is far from reality. Spain does not have effective tools to combat this problem. Of course, it is necessary to recognize the work of local organizations that rescue victims relentlessly. However, to organize rescues is not enough in a country that does not have a law against trafficking, does not protect the victims if they do not prosecute their traffickers, and does not offer decent opportunities to exit exploitation.
The lack of legal and economical structure to protect the fundamental rights of potential victims of human trafficking results in the poor identification and protection of them. Only 1% of trafficking victims are ever identified and rescued. This mean’s the remaining 99% are missing and completely unsafe.
How can we think that a problem that affects 40.5 millions of persons worldwide and 60,000 persons in Spain can be addressed only by NGOs?
Human trafficking is a system of social, cultural, and economic oppression based on exploitation that society — including civil society, government, and the private sector — legitimizes with our daily actions and money.
Our economic system is built on the exploitation of millions in our cities, our countries, and the world. Our purchases, such as the fruit we buy on the supermarket, the cheap manicure we get at a beauty salon, and sometimes the payment of sexual service, legitimize and perpetuate this exploitation.
To take profit off the exploitation of a person is necessitates a complex ecosystem of actions and includes a huge amount of people’s participation (both conscious and unconscious), from capturing the victims, deceiving them, transporting them, and keeping them under slavery.
When we understand this, we understand that human trafficking happens in the structure and life of our cities. It uses the resources of our cities, our technologies, processes and tools to perpetuate that exploitation in front of us. Human trafficking moves with us, uses the services we use, and takes advantages of the logistics of cities.
What would happen if we were able to analyze in detail how a victim was captured, including what means were used and what technologies were taken advantage of? What would happen if we actually knew where human trafficking victims are exploited so we could design strategic solutions that not only demand the attention of NGOs but also that of civil society and the private sector? What if we could build the capacities of professionals in strategic points, such as borders, airports, hotels, hospitals, so they can be able to identify potential victims and help them?
Traffickers has been taking advantage of the resources of cities for years in order to profit from the exploitation of people. We need to use the same resources they use to make their logistics more complicated and make human trafficking more and more difficult to do. We need to ensure that NGOs, the government, and private sector professionals are trained and work together so that the fight against human trafficking becomes a social problem that everyone is responsible for solving.
Even though slavery has its origins in a colonial, racist, and chauvinist way of thinking, this is not only an ideological fight. We cannot end human trafficking only through motivational speeches.
It is time to deliver results. To achieve that we need to stop talking and start designing articulated, detailed, and efficient solutions against trafficking that involve everyone, because a complex problem like trafficking, cannot be solved with simple solutions.