Cultures of exploitation PDF Print E-mail
The shaping of policy at UNODC (2002-2010)

Posted: 22 February 2008

I was buoyed by the institutional impact, awareness building and policy pledges made in last week's Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking, all of which went beyond my expectations. Nevertheless, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and we will never end human trafficking until we change the way women are portrayed. I do not like to see women in burkas, nor do I appreciate seeing half-naked girls featured in provocative fashion ads, both of which may be a form of female exploitation.

The way that women are depicted in many societies today creates vulnerability towards the crime of human trafficking, be it for sexual exploitation or forced labour. Its manifestations are everywhere; in advertising, on television, in song lyrics and in a host of other expressions of popular - and not so popular - culture.

This phenomenon is preying on women in particular. The abusers feel they have the moral right to go ahead and exploit vulnerable women and girls just to cut costs and pocket a profit. I am pointing my finger also at rich countries, not just the gender disparities we see in many developing countries. 

My criticism is not aimed at one single country, I am criticising all countries and urge Governments to openly recognize that we are all part of this crime that shames us all. 

Human trafficking is a crime significantly more challenging to combat than drug trafficking, due to lack of information and political will. The benign neglect many nations still display towards trafficking in human beings must be rectified. Governments need to recognize the human horrors behind trafficking, and stop hiding behind a "no, this is not happening in our country" attitude.







Last Updated on Thursday, 20 January 2011 11:06