”Human Trafficking: An Open Wound on the Body of Contemporary Society” was the keynote address by Kevin Hyland, OBE, former UK anti-slavery commissioner, at a presentation held jointly by Mercy Efforts for Child Protection Against Trafficking with the Hospitality Sector and APT Ireland – with RENATE members, at Panel 5 discussions in Hall 7, at the World Meeting of Families on Thursday morning, 23rd August 2018.
In his address, Kevin provided an overview of how human trafficking pervades contemporary society and global and family responses required for healing.
By means of a series of PowerPoint slides, Kevin shared the understanding of what exactly human trafficking entails and how it manifests itself in various guises worldwide. He spoke about the following aspects: Women and children forced into prostitution, begging and drug-running; Factory slaves; the role society plays in contributing to slavery within the fashion industry; human slavery and exploitation within the car-wash sector.
With the increased incidences of world conflicts and the ensuing displacement of persons, we are seeing an increase in human trafficking. Kevin shared the statistical data currently available, citing 65.6 million forcibly displaced people worldwide- 22.5 million refugees worldwide; 10 million stateless people and 55% of refugees worldwide emanating from three countries- South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria.
Kevin’s focus on our daily interactions which can often unwittingly contribute to human trafficking such as our use of car-washes; nail-bars; the need for cheap-clothing and even our ever-increasing demand for mobile phones. It was the latter which evoked emotive responses as we heard about the abuse of children as young as seven years old, trafficked and exploited in the cobalt mines https://uk.news.yahoo.com/insie-congo-mines-exploit-children-210013559.html?guccounter=1
While money is the clear driver, the solution to prevention and ending human trafficking lies with society itself, specifically through community engagement, sustainable development and criminal justice/capacity building mechanisms.
In this regard, Kevin shared about the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development and their capacity to impact on prevention and ending human trafficking. In particular, Goal 8.7 ” …Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers and by 2025, end child labour in all its forms.”
Kevin’s presentation was followed by Maya, a young lady who is a survivor of human trafficking in the UK. All present were deeply touched by Maya’s sharing her personal story, which will stay with all of us and encourage us to make even greater efforts to bring an end to what Pope Francis calls ”…an open wound on the body of contemporary society.” (NCR, 10 April, 2014).