Put a stop to human trafficking

Human trafficking

Thirty-nine people were killed, all of whom were Vietnamese, in a refrigerated container discovered in Grays, Essex, South East England. It's a sad story. The victims, some of whom were teenagers, suffocated to death. They were from provinces in Northern and Central Vietnam- Ha Tinh and Nghe Provinces to be exact. I have been living in a neighbouring province, Quang Binh. These provinces are very under-developed and the people who live there are very poor. They are left with hefty debts, if they didn't have them before.

One woman, Pham Thi Tra My (26) who hailed from a village in Ha Tinh, had been convinced that she could find a job as a manicurist in England and help her family, which had accumulated $19,000 in debt. Her plight has been written about extensively.

After having a wonderful massage while in North Vietnam, from a girl who said she was 17, I felt compelled to write this. She hugged me at the end of the 90- minute massage. She could easily have been one of the victims of human trafficking- a disgusting trade and a modern form of slavery. The victims are always promised a better life- which is never likely to happen.

I have come across human trafficking before- in the Arab Gulf countries. Girls were being flown into one of the Gulf states, in the middle of the night, from Central Asia to service the sheikhs in the region. I guess their passports were taken from them, like most people working for local firms in the region, and they would have no means of escape. That's modern-day slavery and in the case of the girls, sex trafficking.

I remember telling one of the embassies about the practice of employers retaining passports, in this case it was mine which I refused to give up, and I was told that although the practice was illegal the embassy couldn't, or rather "wouldn't" do anything.

This is slave labour at its worst although a government accused of the practice always says the practice doesn't go on anymore. To be deemed to have good "human rights" and to be a member of international organisations a government has to say that- and many in the international community believe what they are told.

As a correspondent writing on the region and filing to the London the comment was frequently "the government hasn't said that". It is hard for people in the West to understand that a government in the Arab Gulf states can say one thing one minute and change its mind the next. What does this mean for politics in the Middle East?

Another scandal was that of child jockeys. After an international outcry drones are used instead- at least when the public is viewing.

There are many international laws and organizations working to prevent and stop human trafficking, and to hold traffickers accountable. International laws and treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and organisations such as the United Nations, International Labor Organization, and International Organisation for Migration are all working to stem human trafficking in the Middle East and around the world.

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Thursday, 12 December 2019