Human Trafficking in Asia Increases

Human Trafficking has increased by over 25% this last year. Many academics and governments were quoting figures of anything between 20-29 million enslaved around the world between 2014 nad 2015. In 2016 it is estimated that there are 45.8 million victims within 167 countries according to the Global Slavery Index. It is 16 years ago that academic and governments started to address this issue. Now it is becoming an ever growing issue for numerous reasons; poverty and migration being at the top of the list.

The traffickers are drawn to areas where they know they can exploit individual men, women and children. Asia has the highest level of trafficked persons with an average of 30,435,300 within the Asia Pacific region. The Asia-Pacific is the most populous region of the world. It spans Afghanistan in the west, to New Zealand in the south-east, to Mongolia in the north. Two thirds of the estimated 45.8 million people in modern slavery were identified in the Asia-Pacific.

All forms of modern slavery are active, such as forced labour in brick kilns (this can also be debt bondage where the debt is handed down to the children and they automatically become enslaved). Within areas where fertile land can be found, men, women and children are used within the agriculture industry. With the increased demand for clothing in the west, the garment sector where men women and children work has a never ending need for slave labour. Human trafficking is a horrendous crime at any time but when children are involved it is gut-ranching. Child soldiers in Afghanistan, India and Thailand are ripped away from their families. Children are also forced to beg, as well as are being used in the commercial sex industry. Since technology became wide spread, people have increasingly sexually exploited children and, as the rise in internet usage and the availability of mobile phones links with poverty, many parts of Asia have fuelled the online sexual abuse of children. The phenomenon of adults paying for direct live-streaming video footage of children performing sexual acts in front of a webcam is evident in most Asian countries. Men and women experience forced labour in manufacturing, agriculture, food production and construction. Women are also vulnerable to sexual exploitation, forced marriage and domestic servitude. Many women also seek employment on an international level with numerous rogue agents taking advantage by using their vast links with human trafficking gangs around the world. Women from Asia go to work in domestic servitude in the Middle East, as well as other parts of Asia, such as Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.

Forced and child marriages persist in countries throughout the region, particularly in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Indonesia. The United Nations estimates more than 130 million girls in South Asia will be married between 2010 and 2030. Some are trafficked to China as due to its one child policy that was in place for decades, that created a knock on effect with not enough women to marry their sons. In some instances, girls are forced into marriage and then used as unpaid labourers—local day labourers cost US$140 for a season but a bride can cost as little as US$100 as a once-off payment.

As most of the global population is aware, human trafficking takes place. After 16 years of laws to combat the issue, what are our governments doing about it? Why is the number of slaves going up when in 2015, of the 25 countries within the Asia-Pacific, 24 had laws that criminalise some forms of modern slavery? North Korea remains the only nation in Asia—and the world—that has not explicitly criminalised any form of modern slavery. The countries that have taken the most affirmative action are Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. These countries have reasonably strong victim support services, specialised law enforcement units, effective and measurable national action plans (NAPs), and laws, policies and programmes that address cycles of vulnerability. Although some countries are actively addressing the human trafficking issue on the whole, the rate of trafficking with Asia is only increasing.

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