26 August, 2009

Global Recession Feeds Human Trafficking

The recession is feeding the global supply of sex and labour slaves in some countries and New Zealanders are helping drive demand says Salvation Army justice advocate Chris Frazer.

The Salvation Army, in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Criminology and The Pacific Immigration Directors' Conference, will host New Zealand's first major conference on human trafficking starting on September 2.

Deteriorating household living standards in countries where traffickers source their victims are making the impoverished more vulnerable to profiteering traffickers, Ms Frazer says.

A recent report released by anti-child sex trafficking network ECPAT and The Body Shop highlighted the increasing vulnerability of children and young people being coerced or conned into prostitution or the production of child pornography.

Kiwis who surf the internet for porn are likely to be contributing to misery of those trafficked for the production of pornography, Ms Frazer says.

Estimates of the number of trafficking victims range up to 4 million, of whom 79 per cent are victims of sexual exploitation. The overwhelming majority are women and children.

Most New Zealand homes will contain items or components of products that have been produced by slave labour, Ms Frazer says.

Industries as diverse as clothing, sports shoes, coffee, chocolate, sugar, fireworks, glassware, jewellery and mobile phones and laptops offer products that have been found to have been made with slave labour.

"These are not one-off crimes against mainly children and women - the victims suffer day after day, year after year and the damage to their lives is often permanent," Ms Frazer says.

The three-day Pacific Trafficking in Persons Forum will include speakers from government departments and NGOs from the Pacific region as well as UN and law enforcement agencies.

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