Firm commitment key to reducing risk of human trafficking during post COVID-19 period

In the past 11 months, about 160 people including women and children fell prey to traffickers in 106 cases in our country, according to the Myanmar Police Force. In connection with the cases, 160 traffickers were arrested.
The number of cases is not high when compared to other countries, however, the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is driving people to become victims of human trafficking, exploitation and forced labour.
Job losses and lack of access to critical services caused by the pandemic causing authorities to tighten measures at borders can drive more people to become vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers.
About 25 million people worldwide are estimated to be victims of trafficking – a trade worth $150 billion-a-year – according to the U.N. International Labour Organization (ILO).
Under COVID-19, the root causes leading to human trafficking have been exacerbated, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and several civil society organizations. Financial hardship on families, limited labour protections, closing of schools, mass movements of people and an increasing lack of social or economic opportunities may lead to a further development of human trafficking networks.
Besides, they point out that the massive increase in the use of digital technologies during the pandemic may make children more vulnerable to online sexual predators.
From the 7th Anniversary of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Day which fell on 30 July last year to 8th anniversary this year, 148 trafficking in person cases have been identified and actions have been taken on a total of 475 offenders comprising 170 males and 305 females.
Our achievements in tackling trafficking in persons year by year must not be undone by the coronavirus pandemic.
The COVID-19 does not affect people equally. The recession resulting from the COVID-19 crisis makes people more prone to accept help from smugglers, especially if they come from an already unequal economy.
The five major causes of human trafficking in Myanmar are forced marriage, forced prostitution, forced labour, trafficking in children, and debt bondage.
Ending trafficking in persons requires a firm commitment, and not just at the institutional level. It also requires a broad involvement of international civil society organizations which are working tirelessly with government departments. And, most of all — we need the involvement of men.

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