With Covid-19 bringing economic activities across nations to a halt, more and more people are being pushed into poverty. Job losses, business losses and farming losses, leading to economic stress, are pushing many to the fringes of poverty. And as families are being rendered helpless, the worst sufferers are invariably the children.
While simultaneously suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, flooding and a locust crisis, Somalia, could well see a rise in the number of people who are susceptible to human trafficking.
A single mother, Mai (name changed) had the responsibility of providing for her young son and grandparents, who had brought her up in a poor rural province in southern Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. While she was looking for employment, somebody approached her on social media with an offer of a high-paying job in China. When she arrived in China, she was sold into a forced marriage.
Aged 17, Moe Turaga was saddled with the responsibility of providing for his mother and young siblings when a family member approached him with the promise of a job and education in Australia. Dreaming of a bright future for himself and his family, he seized the opportunity and left the protective confines of his home in Fiji, only to find himself trapped in modern slavery on a remote agriculture farm in the state of Victoria.
Malawi is not doing enough to enforce its laws on human trafficking, resulting in a number of cases against perpetrators being dismissed by the courts, according to a local rights group. But local officials say that this Southern African nation — one of the poorest countries in the world — just doesn’t have the financial resources to do so.
Last week more than 396 starving Rohingyas were rescued off the coast of Bangladesh after being at sea for two months. At least 32 had died on the boat after it failed to reached Malaysia. While it was unclear at the time of the breaking news whether the refugees were from Myanmar, where they are originally from, or Bangladesh — where more than a million Rohingya Muslims live as refugees after fleeing violence in Myanmar in 2017 — the attempt to reach Malaysia is not a new one.
The deadly, fast-spreading coronavirus which upended three key UN conferences—on the empowerment of women, on nuclear disarmament and on indigenous rights—claimed another casualty last week when a commemorative meeting on the transatlantic slave trade was postponed.
Similo Ntuli* looks like a ordinary, fashion-savvy woman in her twenties. As a hairdresser and beauty therapist in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city, Ntuli has her finger on the pulse of the latest styles and trends. But she also has, what she admits, are dark secrets.
"Slave labour is not declining; it has taken on new forms and is growing; it expanded to new sectors where it did not previously exist," said Ivanete da Silva Sousa, an activist in the fight against modern-day slavery in northern Brazil.
When her uncle offered her an opportunity to work in Jakarta almost a decade ago, the then 15-year-old Afra Burga Ambui immediately agreed and soon she was boarding a two-hour flight to the country’s capital and away from her village on Flores Island in East Nusa Tenggara, southern Indonesia.
Elton Ndumiso*, a bus-conductor who works the route from Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, to neighbouring South Africa, sees it all the time: Zimbabwean women travelling with three or four children, who are clearly not their own kids, and taking them across the border.
It’s a crime that most bus drivers or conductors either turn a blind eye to, or become accomplices in by assisting the women.