Covid-19 & Human Trafficking


Covid-19 & Human Trafficking

By Becki Bowie

Periods of uncertainty and crisis can have significantly higher levels of affect on exploitation and human trafficking.

Covid-19 is no different to this.

The short term affects of this global pandemic are devastating.

Modern slavery which includes labour, sexual and criminal exploitation, domestic servitude, child soldiers and trafficking are all hidden crimes. While we still are able to spread awareness, it is difficult reaching victims during this outbreak as they are hidden and isolated.

According to research from a few anti trafficking organisations, one of the newest issues the Coronavirus is creating is the vulnerability many will feel being out of work. Unemployment leads to a higher amount of people looking for new opportunities and jobs. Many of whom are trying to keep their head above water, potentially making them easy targets for traffickers and trafficking schemes.

Moreover those already in this line of work, or those forced into it could be made to do overtime, making them more susceptible to contracting the virus. As well as any efforts that have been made previously to intervene at risk of being disrupted.

Many have looked to their future and known what it holds. But now, during a time with so much uncertainty, less stability and confusion, we need to be looking out for one another. It is important that we protect the vulnerable.

How are organizations responding to the affect Covid-19 is having on survivors?

A21 which is an organisation working in 17 countries around the world, have made their frontline response and first priority to care for the safety and security of victims and all involved. Where freedom centres are not running, they are doing personal visits, getting every survivor what they need. They are making sure they are stocked up with basic essentials, providing health to those who need it and continuing to arrange financial support and accommodation.

‘Stop the Traffik’, another organization working to prevent modern day slavery around the world, have said while borders are closed and most people are in isolation, traffickers continue to exploit however they can. Where there is uncertainty, loss of reliable income or life, profiteering will likely follow. Counterfeit goods and scams have increased, where business’ are going to use people to meet their demand. For example the increased need for facemarks has led to those made by exploitative labour practices hitting the markets. Although this is all happening, ‘Stop the Traffic’ have intelligence and tech people to continue fighting modern slavery how they know they can.

During these times, while our contact with victims is less, national helplines are still up and running to make sure they are supporting victims however they can.

The Modern Slavery Helpline is still providing 24/7 access to their phone services and operating around the clock to keep running and making sure they can do everything they can during this crisis.  Their staff are working under difficult circumstances to ensure survivors of modern slavery are getting everything they need.

Their helpline number is: 08000 121 700.

Modern day slavery can seem daunting and like an impossible challenge to beat. However be rest assured we are beating it. If you suspect anything or have any questions, please do report to the Modern Slavery Helpline. Together we can beat this!

I will leave you with a profound statement by A21’s co founder Christine Caine. “No one person can do everything, but everyone one of us can do something.” This is at the heart of CCAT’s work.