Saturday, October 18th marked EU Anti-human trafficking Day and it is nearly a year since “The Truth about Human Trafficking: A guide to the issue of Human Trafficking for Service Providers in Co Donegal”, was launched by Kieran Doherty, HSE Manager in Letterkenny.
The booklet was compiled by the Human Trafficking Working Group, an interagency partnership representing organisations such as the HSE, An Garda Siochána, Letterkenny Women’s Centre, Donegal Domestic Violence Service, Donegal Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Centre, Nexus and NCCWN -Donegal Women’s Network. The key message “recognise, respond and refer” is on the HSE website. It is very user-friendly and informative.
What is human trafficking?
Human Trafficking occurs when a person, man, woman or child is deceived or taken against their will, bought, sold and exploited in places like the sex industry, sweatshops, factories, circuses, for body parts, forced begging, cannabis cultivation or domestic servitude.
Slavery is viewed as a part of history however slavery is deep rooted in the 21st century in the form of Human Trafficking. It is a crime which violates human rights. It can take place anywhere including rural areas such as Donegal. There is no requirement that a person must have crossed a border for trafficking to take place, it can and does take place within national borders
According to the United Nations, 2.45 million people are trafficked each year of which 1.2 million are children. According to the Irish Anti Human Trafficking Unit, 48 people were reported as victims of human trafficking in Ireland in 2012. The main type of human trafficking involved was for sexual exploitation. 31 of those trafficked were female and 17 male, with 25 of this number being adults and 23 minors. 19 of these victims were of Irish origin and all of these were minors and reported as victims of sexual exploitation.
It is important to acknowledge and recognise that trafficking in Ireland is generated by a demand within Ireland. In June of last year it was unanimously recommended by the Oireachtas Justice Committee that TDs end the delay in introducing laws that target the buyers of sex.
Paying for sex is to be banned in Northern Ireland after members at the Stormont assembly backed the move in a landmark late-night vote last week. While the legislation still has to pass further assembly stages, the significant majority support within the devolved administration means it is essentially now destined to become law.
Ruhama, a national organisation that provides support and help to women affected by prostitution welcomed this land mark vote. Sarah Benson, CEO, Ruhama said: “This Bill, which has support from the majority of the political parties in Northern Ireland, sends out a strong signal that those who buy sex, will be held accountable for their key role in fuelling organised crime and perpetrating abuse against victims of trafficking and exploitation.” In Donegal Letterkenny Women’s Centre (LWC) receive referrals from Rhuama and LWC refers women to them.
Recently the Donegal Anti – Human Trafficking group forged links with North West Stop the Traffik group based in Derry and both look forward to collaboratively working together. In Donegal other initiatives and organisations like the Man Up Campaign, Letterkenny Institute of Technology are lending their support to raise awareness of this issue. We all have a role to play in being alert to the possibility of trafficking crimes and to report our concerns in this regard.
Here are some of the signs as outlined in the Truth about Human Trafficking report and published on the HSE website:
• Women or men living in groups in poor conditions and working very long hours.
• Women or men who are dependent on their employer for all their basic needs such as food, accommodation and transport.
• Women or men living in the same place as they are working.
• Symptoms of abuse (physical/sexual/emotional/neglect) for example bruises, untreated injuries.
• Women being accompanied wherever they go.
Trafficking starts in a community and can be stopped in a community. If interested you can sign up to Turn Off the Red Light, a campaign to end prostitution and sex trafficking in Ireland.