Stakeholders have called for the protection of victims of human trafficking across the world.
The call was made to mark this year’s World Day against Trafficking in Persons.
The stakeholders are also calling for an end to the illegal trade.
The United Nations designated July 30 every year as a day to raise awareness on the plight of victims of cold-hearted activities of human trafficking, and promote and protect their rights.
The Coronavirus pandemic has made difficult the essential role of first responders to victims of modern slavery, according to Chinaka Okoro in a report by TheNation.
The UN urged law enforcement officers, social workers, health care professionals, non-governmental organisations, members of staff and many others working around the world to protect the vulnerable and end the crime of human trafficking.
Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, noted that during the COVID-19 crisis, the essential role of first responders had become even more important; particularly as the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have made their work even more difficult.
He said, “Like the frontline heroes saving lives and sustaining our societies in the COVID-19 pandemic, these providers are keeping vital services going throughout the crisis. They help in identifying victims, ensuring their access to justice, health, social assistance and protection, and preventing further abuse and exploitation.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated many global inequalities, created new obstacles on the path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and left millions of people at greater risk of being trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced labour forced marriages and other crimes.
“Women and girls already account for more than 70 per cent of detected human trafficking victims, and currently are among the hardest hit by the pandemic. With previous downturns showing that women face a harder time getting paid jobs back in the aftermath of the crisis, vigilance is especially important at this time.
“If the world is to put human dignity and human rights at the centre of the COVID-19 response and recovery, we need to do more to protect trafficking victims and prevent vulnerable people from being exploited by criminals.”
According to Pathfinders Justice Initiative, a non-governmental organisation committed to the eradication of modern slavery, women and girls represented 84 per cent of the 15.4 million people in forced marriages and 59 per cent of those in private forced labour.
On why the dingy business of human trafficking flourishes, the Index also revealed that the illegal trade is a high profit, low-risk business which allows traffickers to operate with impunity.
It noted that in 2018, there were only 11,096 prosecutions (down from 17,471 in 2017) and 7,481 convictions (up from 7,135 in 2017) globally, even as it states that of all the global victims, only 85,613 were identified (down from 96,960 in 2017).