The annual TIP Report, categorized into tiers based on how well governments meet the minimum requirements for the elimination of human trafficking, was set by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000.

 

If there is a single theme to this year’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, it is the conviction that there is nothing inevitable about trafficking in human beings. That conviction is where the process of change really begins—with the realization that just because a certain abuse has taken place in the past doesn’t mean that we have to tolerate that abuse in the future or that we can afford to avert our eyes. Instead, we should be asking ourselves—what if that victim of trafficking was my daughter, son, sister, or brother?

 This year’s TIP Report asks such questions because ending modern slavery isn’t just a fight we should attempt—it is a fight we can and must win.

                                                                        -John F. Kerry, Secretary of State

 

This year’s (2016) Trafficking in Persons Report focuses on the positive developments and continued challenges of preventing trafficking, and it considers how governments and the broader anti-trafficking community can effectively ensure that those who are vulnerable to human trafficking have the tools and opportunities to avert the risks of exploitation. (2016 TIP Report)

 

The TVPA defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:

➤ sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or

➤ the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within these definitions.

 

Here is a small sampling of some of the topics discussed in the TIP Report.

 

  • Vulnerability and Human Trafficking

 

Although human trafficking occurs everywhere, the common factor that can be found is the victim’s vulnerability to exploitation. Traffickers exploit these vulnerabilities. They prey on those who lack security and opportunity, coerce, and deceive to gain control.

 

To prevent this, governments, NGOs, and local communities must identify the vulnerable within their borders and develop effective strategies to increase awareness and prevent human trafficking.

 

Examples of vulnerabilities:

 

  • Refugees and migrants, including asylum-seekers
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals
  • Religious minorities
  • People with disabilities (physical & intellectual)
  • Those who are stateless
  • The poor
  • The uneducated / poorly educated
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Homelessness
  • Children

 

  • Research, Data Collection, and Program Evaluation

 

Given the complex nature of human trafficking, data is difficult to collect, causing gaps in knowledge of how to prevent human trafficking.

 

Reliable baseline information providing insight to causes, trends, and characteristics of human trafficking allow governments and civil societies to create an understanding and protect their more vulnerable members of society, including a more comprehensive understanding of root causes that are specific to states, communities, and cultural contexts. With this information programs can be developed to meet the specific needs of the people.

 

  • Raising Awareness

 

Awareness regarding the signs and dangers of human trafficking is an important factor in the fight against human trafficking.

 

Public awareness campaigns help to educate the community to be knowledgeable to the signs of human trafficking so they can inform law enforcement as well as targeting victims who may not even know they are a victim.

 

Campaign designers need to improve the way human trafficking victims are portrayed in their awareness ads. By showing a victim bound and beaten skews the public’s idea of what a victim looks like. Many are controlled solely by emotional and verbal threats and may be overlooked by the public as a potential victim.

 

  • Policies & Programs to Reduce Risk & Empower Vulnerable Individuals

 

Public awareness campaigns are one way to prevent human trafficking, but laws and policies must also be put in place to protect people from becoming vulnerable to traffickers such as:

  • Registering births
  • Administering citizenship and nationality
  • Identity documents

A lack of such documents renders a person vulnerable.

 

Documentation also allows residents and their families to utilize health, education, and employment services, all of which make a person less vulnerable.

 

  • Multilateral Collaboration

 

Human trafficking occurs in every country, on every continent. “Multilateral engagement is a key component of many governments’ effective anti-trafficking efforts.” (2016 TIP Report)

 

Many organizations are incorporating anti-trafficking policies into their own operating policies such as:

 

  • National security
  • Human rights
  • Violence against women and children
  • Migration management
  • Refugee protection
  • Business responsibility
  • Supply chain accountability
  • Economic development

 

By developing common goals, these organizations can help foster data collection and standardize research while providing a venue to identify new and emerging trends in human trafficking.

 

  • Enhancing Partnerships

 

To combat human trafficking, collaboration must take place. Survivors, NGOs, donors, academics, businesses, and governments need to work together, sharing strengths and supporting weaknesses. Creating a partnership is the only way to combat human trafficking on a global scale.

 

  • A Joint Effort

 

Preventing human trafficking is an enormous challenge, requiring the sustained efforts of many. Collaboration between government and nongovernmental stakeholders is critical to strengthening efforts to prevent modern slavery.

 

At its core, the global struggle to combat human trafficking is about political and public will. If ignored, traffickers will continue to reap enormous profits while communities suffer the many toxic effects.

 

But if trafficking is confronted head on, vulnerable populations will be empowered to control more fully their lives and protect themselves from the harms of human trafficking. (2016 TIP Report)

 

 

If you need help or suspect someone may be a victim of human trafficking in the U.S. call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-3737-888 or text Polaris at BeFree (233733).

 

To download the entire report visit http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2016/index.htm

 

 

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