We know that human trafficking is the second largest international criminal enterprise in the world today.
We also know that the trafficking of humans for sexual servitude, in the labor market, through adoption, through forced marriage and organ harvesting are on the rise.
We know that the commodificaiton of women and girls is driven by a demand market, mostly by men, who purchase girls and women’s bodies to abuse and misuse – fueled by the legalisation of prostitution and pornographic images indulged on -line.
Human trafficking in situations of conflict is the other area of harm to women and girls that has taken center stage in the last few years with ISIS kidnapping, selling, purchasing ans abusing women and girls as young as 9 as their ‘sex slaves’ or second wives.
Women and girls are sold according to their age, beauty, health and ability to please their captors.
The Security Council yesterday called on all United Nations Member States to do everything in their power to combat human trafficking, especially for sexual purposes, citing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Boko Haram as prime perpetrators.
The Security Council referred specifically to ISIL’s trafficking in Yazidis and its abuse of international humanitarian law and human rights, as well as such violations by the LRA in central Africa and the Nigerian-based Islamist Boko Haram group “for the purpose of sexual slavery, sexual exploitation and forced labour,” saying such actions in armed conflict may constitute war crimes.
The Security Council noted the particular impact that trafficking in persons in situations of armed conflict has on women and children, including increasing their vulnerability to sexual and gender based violence, admitting that most of those trafficked are vulnerable women and children deceived or abducted into a life of suffering, exploitation, torture and servitude.
This ruthless practice has become a global industry and it must be stopped.
The most heartbreaking reality of this horrific abuse and war crime, is that the funds received from the selling of these vulnerable victims goes into funding further terror acts and further victimising the vulnerable.
Groups such as ISIS, the LRA, Boko Haram and others are driven by deep ideological convictions rooted in their faith traditions and the teachings they have been exposed to.
Take this image as an example:
In 2014 Mohamed Elomar, an Australian citizen has boasted on Twitter that he had “1 of 7 Yehzidi slave girls for sale” at $2500 each, of whom four, all Yazidis, later escaped to a refugee camp where the ABC caught up with them and interviewed them.
Khaled Sharrouf is the other Australian citizen that has been identified as having an involvement in Islamic State sex slavery.
Unfortunately, there are explicit texts in the Qu’ran that call on men to treat women as dogs, to beat them into submission and the Qur’an directly endorses having sex with captive women: (Sura 4:24).
These harmful ideological drivers need to be discussed and addressed – globally.
The links between Jihadists and their religious ideological beliefs that drive their behaviour are unpacked by Johnathan Cole – a former terrorism analyst in a recent article here.
Unfortunately, the Security Council does not officially recognize harmful ideologies as a driving force to human trafficking and sexual slavery.
This, of course, is problematic to moving forward to a global solution to such crimes.
Slavery is not just a past abomination. Millions of people are living as slaves or in slave-like conditions – in the year 2015.
There are more people displaced today than at any time since the Second World War.
Millions more are caught up in conflict, unable to flee.
These human beings are exposed to a wide range of human rights violations, not least trafficking. They are sold, they are trafficked for sexual enslavement, for prostitution, for illegal adoption, for slave labour, for criminality or recruitment as child soldiers.
“Horrifying tales have emerged of how women and children are treated in captivity,” UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the Council, stressing that their ordeal does not end once they are freed. “Even when captivity ends, suffering continues. Indeed, the scars of such violence last a lifetime.”
Victims, fortunate enough to be freed require rehabilitation and assistance to regain their rights and dignity, and to reintegrate into the workforce, to be provided access to education, and to be a positive and contributing member of their society. They must be given a chance to take back their lives and build new futures.
The Security Council statement called on Member States to fully implement all relevant resolutions, to improve implementation of applicable legal obligations to criminalize, prevent, and otherwise combat trafficking in persons, and to ratify the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
The implementation of such international laws and standards only go as far as educational awareness campaigns highlighting these laws and standards, in advocacy for the victims, through enforcement and deterrence in the form of sentencing, and in the provision of exit and rehabilitation programs for the victims.
Australia has a long way to go in this regard.
We do not even provide exit programs for the victims of human trafficking through prostitution.
This is something Fighting for Justice Foundation is campaigning towards.