MS Risk Blog

Human trafficking in Southeast Asia

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If someone is following the news, not a single day passes without a report on some kidnappings or human trafficking. This is extremely true if one looks at East and Southeast Asia. According to the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2016 report, the share of the detected victims of human trafficking is increasing every year. Half of the victims are women and nearly one third of the victims are children.

In the case of Southeast Asia, more than half of the victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation. 7800 victims were detected between 2012 and 2014. 60% of these victims were trafficked for sexual exploitation. In a recent Indian government report the number of reported human trafficking cases were more than 8000. The Freedom Project, an Indian anti-slavery charity says, the trend reflected by the data is pretty accurate, although it does not include the unreported cases, which means much more people fall victim of human trafficking. Most of the victims are forced to work in their country of origin, or they are smuggled to neighbouring countries. Longer flows are destined to wealthier regional countries like Japan or Australia. Terrorist groups, like ISIS or the Taliban, are also highly interested in human trafficking.

The second biggest reason for trafficking people is forced labour. Those trafficked for labour usually work in the fishing industry, such as in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia. It usually means working for more than 16 hours a day without any compensation.

Between 2012-2014 nearly 5000 offenders were prosecuted for trafficking.

There are many forms of fight against human trafficking. The cabin and ground crew of two Malaysian airlines will be taught to spot possible victims. The crew will be trained to ask specific questions and look for signs of body language. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) will launch its human trafficking awareness campaign in 2018. Guidelines train crew members to look for indicators of human trafficking. Key indicators include passengers not in control of their own travel documents, acting nervous or frightened and being inconsistent about their destinations. In Bangladesh, police forces held a conference to heighten the awareness and sensitivity of Police Personnel in December 2017. Cambodia and India are both source, transit and destination countries for human trafficking. Both countries use modern technologies to help low-skilled workers to find local jobs, avoid traffickers and fake recruiters. In Cambodia, Bong Pheak, a free recruitment service offers an application which provides workers access to more than 500 registered and checked employers. In India, there are mobile applications matching women with domestic employers, bypassing fraudulent intermediaries.

All the victims become traumatised because of what they have gone through, been forced to do and because of all the suffering. Agencies and local organisations realised that some of the countries’ health and medical services are not prepared to help reintegrate people experiencing such mental and physical problems. In northern Vietnam, local social organisations are providing shelter and aid for human trafficking victims with the help of previous victims.