Human trafficking is the world’s second-biggest black-market industry. In 2019, the Indian government reported 2,088 incidents of trafficking, up from 1,830 in 2018.
The Philippines is also a prime target for human trafficking in the western Pacific region of Asia.
The country is home to one of the world’s largest victim populations, with an estimated 784,000 individuals held in modern-day slavery.
However, countries are also making considerable efforts to combat the issue.
The US Department of State officially recognizes the Philippines and Columbia as Tier 1 countries, which means they fulfill all of the baseline requirements for eliminating trafficking.
Every year on July 30, we observe World Day against Trafficking in Persons to call attention to this issue, inspire greater vigilance, and rally public support for efforts to end this heinous crime.
For this year’s theme, “Use and Abuse of Technology,” let’s take a look at how technology can help or hurt the fight against human trafficking.
Technology: A Trafficker’s Handiest Tool?
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic struck and we transitioned much of our daily lives to internet platforms, human trafficking has expanded into cyberspace.
The pandemic caused a two-month court closure and a six-month nationwide lockdown in Columbia, affecting judicial proceedings and the government’s ability to function.
Prosecutions, investigations, convictions, and arrests in Columbia fell since there was a lack of data on the types and lengths of penalties for trafficking offences.
It wasn’t until 2020 that the government updated its law enforcement database to continue investigating these crimes.
This lack of digitization is what traffickers take advantage of. Traffickers use the internet and other digital platforms to easily locate, contact and exploit potential victims, as well as arrange for their transportation and lodging.
They can more easily, cheaply, and anonymously market victims and reach out to new clients; communicate among criminals, and hide illegal proceeds.
Social media is a key tool for human traffickers who seek out, court, and recruit victims, especially minors. Traffickers often use photographs of children to advertise their services on the internet.
Online resources become a double-edged sword for those who are always on the road. The internet is full of scams that prey on the vulnerable (such as fraudulent job postings or travel schemes).
The Internet as a World of Hope Against Crisis
However, humans created technology to help each other advance and grow. Technology-enabled solutions from several sectors, including law enforcement and the criminal justice system, will be crucial to ending human trafficking in the future.
This includes efforts to investigators in unveiling the inner workings of trafficking networks, improving prosecutions by using digital evidence, and offering support to survivors.
The government should encourage more awareness campaigns focused on safer internet and social media use along with prevention programs.
This would help people recognize trafficker signs and avoid falling into traps.
We also need long-term technological solutions and collaboration with orphanage funding organizations and the business sector to effectively prevent and fight human trafficking.
Help Us Help Victims in India, Columbia, and the Philippines
Victims of human trafficking and their families need help and resources to bounce back from the trauma and displacement they face.
Many orphanage charity organizations like Orphan Life Foundation help displaced children live better lives through various projects and programs.