[Photo: Young Cambodian woman forced to work as a prostitute by her own mother]
The plight of a female minor who ends up as a sex slave or a prostitute – due to callous human traffickers – is always heart-rending and infuriating at the same time whether in the Philippines, Thailand, India, UK or Poland.
Sadly, there is no stopping cold-hearted and wicked human traffickers . . . for as long as perpetrators make big money from this activity.
Trading in human beings, whether victims are minors or adults, is one of the most despicable and most evil things that perpetrators inflict on victims because of the following:
1. Victims, most of whom are women, are often subjected to a wide array of brutalities — physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual — as they are turned into sex slaves.
2. They are deprived of vital contacts with their loved ones, thus subjecting them to a horrifying state of despair and near total hopelessness.
3. Migrant workers brought in as tourists into another country often end up being exploited by unscrupulous employers who know illegal workers have no legal rights in their host country.
4. Illegal workers, brought in as tourists by human traffickers, live in constant fear of being caught and being expelled by host countries.
International forums on human trafficking, like the one held in Hong Kong yesterday, are always helpful to create public awareness and concern over this despicable crime, and hopefully, prompt government and private sectors into more vigorous courses of action to try and stamp out this problem.
But what else needs to be done to fight this social scourge more effectively and vigorously? The following measures, in my view, need to be given serious consideration to curb this menacing social problem:
1] Concerned governments need to be pushed and persuaded to take sterner actions, such as long prison terms of 10 years or more and even solitary confinement, against convicted human traffickers
2] Human trafficking should be classified as heinous crimes because of the long-term emotional, psychological and other damage inflicted on victims
3] Suspects in this type of heinous crimes should be held indefinitely until all doubts of potential involvement in trafficking are cleared up
4] If special courts dedicated to addressing human trafficking can’t be set up, higher priority should be given in the legal system to resolving this type of cases
5] Concerned governments should be asked to forge closer cooperation with each other and private sector groups, specifically human trafficking pressure groups, should also pitch in
6] More pro-active individual and collective international police actions should be mounted in different parts of the world against traffickers
7] Financial and material proceeds of human trafficking crimes should be confiscated, thereby depriving remnants of criminal syndicates of funds which can otherwise be used to continue this nefarious activity
Some measures that I am proposing sound and appear draconian.
However, most of these are still within the legal framework of most countries – in sharp contrast to the deprivation by callous traffickers of virtually all human rights of victims.
A strong and clear message should be sent out to perpetrators of human trafficking: they will be punished severely for their crimes.
Instilling fear in the hearts and minds of perpetrators is the single most effective method of curbing the human trafficking problem around the world.
In this regard, some lessons may be drawn from the Israelis.
Surrounded on all sides by Arab countries, no one dares attack Israel in a big way today, lest the latter retaliates swiftly and viciously. If not this type of fear, something that comes close to it can go a long way in deterring human traffickers from preying on hapless victims.