Recently, I met with a representative of the International Justice Mission, Mike Hogan, when he came to my university for Abolition Week, to educate students about human trafficking. He answered some questions that I had about the aftercare that IJM provides for the victims of human rights abuses and how IJM helps the victims rebuild their lives. He told me that the aftercare specialists help by teaching them basic life skills such as how to balance a check book and how to find a job (Hogan, 2010). According to Hogan, many of the victims of forced labor don't know these skills because they were born into this form of slavery, or have been in it for most of their lives. He also told me about how the girls who are victims of sex trafficking are provided with psychological help and are taught marketable skills by the aftercare specialists. These skills help to ensure that the girls do not have to resort to prostitution to make a living.
Since the purpose of this blog is to look at the cultural reasons for human trafficking, I will use the remainder of this blog post to talk about human trafficking in Europe and some of the cultural aspects that might be influencing human trafficking within the continent.
According to a report from the UNICEF Innocenti Research Center, two thirds of European countries are the homelands of the child victims of human trafficking and more than three fourths of European countries are destinations for the victims
The study conducted by the UNICEF Innocenti Research Center also looked at the factors that put certain groups of children in the greatest risk for human trafficking. In Eastern Europe, teenagers from 13 to 18 years of age are at risk because they think that life would be better in another country. This belief is encouraged by the success stories of people who have left their homeland. The fact that there are very limited options for legal migration, leads these teenagers to use trafficking to try to escape their country. In South Eastern Europe, there are many factors that can put minors at risk, these include: poverty, severe family problems, drug abuse, sexual abuse, and domestic violence. While children whose families who are abusive or in trouble money wise are at risk, children with ‘loving and caring’ families who would not consider themselves ‘poor’ can also become victims of trafficking. Particular risk groups are minors who live in institutions, have dropped out of school, or have no home. A lack of employment opportunities can also put minors at risk. The UNICEF Innocenti Research Center also mentioned that migrants and minority groups made vulnerable by the standard of supervision of unaccompanied minors at immigration reception centers and residential care centers, which is of lower quality than the care for nationals. The fact that some countries deport these unaccompanied minors and that child victims of human trafficking are penalized for immigration violations that resulted from being trafficked, have only helped the child trafficking market in Europe to thrive.
Bissell, S. (2008). Child Trafficking in Europe: A Broad Vision to put Children First . Florence ,Italy: UNICEF United Nations Children's Fund.
*Hogan, M. (2010, March 2). International Justice Mission . (J. Wedam, Interviewer)
*Mike Hogan is an employee of the Washington DC headquarters of the International Justice Mission. His official title is regional director of church mobilization and he is based in Portland, Oregon.
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