Anne Phibbs cbs
‘Human trafficking and similar forms of exploitation affect every country on earth. One of the reasons why they flourish is because of society’s greed for cheap goods and services and because it is easy to forget that those who meet these needs are human beings with their own God-given dignity.’ – Bishop Vincent Long, Archbishop Paramatta, Australia
Every year, 30 July has been designated by the UN as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons.
The 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report observes: ‘Despite its global reach, human trafficking takes place locally – in a favourite nail salon or restaurant; in a neighbourhood home or popular hotel; on a city street or rural farm.’
Migrant exploitation has become a significant issue in New Zealand with the latest concern being workers in bottle-stores – one in the Manawatu forced to work 65 hours a week and paid an average of $6.92 an hour.
A shop one block from my home was part of a racket run by a Wellington man who promised work in restaurants but exploited his countrymen in fast-food outlets instead. Found in the shop was $90,000 in cash, paid by his victims.
In November 2018 stuff’s ‘The Big Scam’ exposed a string of immigration scams where desperate migrants paid for fake jobs or jobs where they were forced to return most of their wages to employers.
On 17 December 2018 a man was charged with 18 counts of human trafficking and slavery in Hawke’s Bay. In May 2019 a Fair Labour Agreement was signed so that 800 Filipino builders will be covered by ethical labour-hire standards. This follows the disclosure that migrants were forced to live in cramped conditions and then paid most of their pay for the privilege.
There are many Catholic groups working against modern slavery and exploitation. In New Zealand the group is ANZRATH – Aotearoa NZ Religious (and friends) Against the Trafficking of Humans. The Wellington branch informs people about trafficking mainly through holding public meetings. In November 2019 the guest speaker will be Sr Colleen Jackson rsc who represented the Australian Bishops and ACRATH (Australia), at the Forum on Human Trafficking in Rome, July last year.
What can we do?
Inform ourselves. Question the supply chain of the clothes we purchase, the chocolate we buy, the coffee we drink. Report exploitation to the Labour Inspectorate: ph 0800 209020 or to Crimestoppers: 0800 555 111.
Anne Phibbs cbs is a member of ANZRATH Wellington branch.
World Day against Trafficking in Persons: 30 July
People trafficking and modern-day slavery is a worldwide problem with very few countries immune. Thousands of men, women and children end up in the hands of traffickers every year, often through being tricked and misled to believe they are being taken to work that will make their family better off, or through force, kidnap, or even through very poor families selling children to survive. It is a global industry not far behind drugs and arms in terms of profit for traffickers.
According to the International Labour Organisation, around 21 million people are victims of forced labour globally, and of these, a significant number are also trafficking victims.
Almost a third of all human trafficking victims worldwide are children, according to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons released in December 2016 by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Women and girls comprise 71 per cent of human trafficking victims. They tend to be trafficked for marriages and sexual slavery, while men and boys are typically exploited for forced labour in the mining sector, as porters, and as soldiers. The report also states refugees from war and persecution are particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking.
In September 2015, the world adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and embraced goals and targets on trafficking in persons. These goals call for an end to trafficking and violence against children; as well as the need for measures against human trafficking, and they strive for the elimination of all forms of violence against and exploitation of women and girls.
The UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants in 2016 produced the New York Declaration, of which three of the 19 commitments adopted are dedicated to concrete action against the crimes of human trafficking and migrant smuggling.
Published in WelCom July 2019