Did you know that there are more slaves today than ever before in history? These are 25 painfully disturbing facts about human trafficking which is one of the awful manifestations of poverty and sadly is alive and well and probably in evidence closer to us than we realise.

A Few Facts & Figures (Source from UN Goals)

  • 836 million people still live in extreme poverty
  • About one in five persons in developing regions lives on less than $1.25 per day
  • The overwhelming majority of people living on less than $1.25 a day belong to two regions: Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa
  • High poverty rates are often found in small, fragile and conflict-affected countries
  • One in four children under age five in the world has inadequate height for his or her age
  • Every day in 2014, 42,000 people had to abandon their homes to seek protection due to conflict

Human Trafficking

When someone mentions the word “poverty” what images are conjured up for you? It used to be emaciated children from Africa that would be the first image in my mind.

Having spent a little time living in Dhaka and seen some of the realities of poverty and experienced it close at hand it’s no longer something I can erase from my mind and pretend it’s not there. All countries have a variety forms of poverty and obviously some more extreme than others.

We are kidding ourselves if we think human trafficking is only in countries where extreme poverty exists. It is alive and well in most countries New Zealand included, but not necessarily acknowledged. In September 2016 NZ’s first case of human trafficking took place and a guilty verdict reached. For more info read the article from the NZ Herald. As Peter Mihaere states in the article “New Zealanders will be surprised at human trafficking levels.”

“The 15 Fijian workers who fell victim to the scam were lured to New Zealand on the promise of $900 per week picking fruit.

They sold their family cows and borrowed thousands of dollars from their villages for the chance to work in high-paying jobs in New Zealand and give their families a better life.

They returned home empty-pocketed and ashamed.”

And then there’s the sex trafficking which just turns my stomach. Currently only 1% of the girls trafficked get rescued. It’s great to see a few NZ run organisations joining the fight against this.

Just last week I read about a woman who had been sold at birth to traffickers in the US and last night I saw a clip about her story on Dr Phil of all things. Her story is unfathomable, that human beings can think it’s ok to do such awful things to fellow human beings and in her instance it was coming from so called “respected” and influential people in society including law enforcement, government politicians and wealthy businessmen. Often it occurs at large sporting events – anywhere where large sums of money are involved. A pimp will buy a girl for a few thousand dollars and make that in the first week and everything after that is profit so it’s becoming a lucrative way for them to make money.

As a mother of two daughters, I think it’s important we have some awareness of what can happen as everyone just thinks these awful things won’t happen to them.

At NZ’s first Justice Conference late last year I took part in a simulation of being trafficked which was organised by a group called Hagar. It was fascinating, and yet we knew we were going to be able to walk away at the end of the experience. If you’d like to hear more about it read my blog.

I’d like to end this disturbing topic on a positive note. Two months ago I read this story about an Air hostess who recognised something was not right on a flight and as a result rescued a girl who was being trafficked.

“Sheila Frederick, 49, was working on an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to San Francisco when she noticed the girl, who looked around 14 or 15 years old, and immediately knew something was wrong, according to 10 News.

“Something in the back of my mind said something was not right. He was well-dressed. That’s what got me because I thought why is he well-dressed and she is looking all dishevelled and out of sorts?” Ms Frederick told the programme.

When she tried to speak with the two passengers, the man reportedly became defensive and the girl wouldn’t engage in conversation.

Ms Frederick said she subsequently left a note for the teenager in the plane’s toilet, which she later responded to with the message: “I need help.”

The flight attendant informed pilots who were then able to communicate the message to police in San Francisco, and the man was arrested when the flight landed.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

The good news is there are a lot of NGO groups who are specialising in this arena to help combat that this. Nvader, Not for Sale, FInd Her Smile for starters.

A number of companies are showing their concern in practical ways too. For instance I use some essential oils from a company who’s ethics I respect. doTerra Essential Oils work with 26 developing countries and teaming with them (they call it Co-Impact sourcing) to set up the infrastructure. They also have an oil blend they’ve made called “Hope”. They hand it out to girls they suspect have been trafficked and when they open the seal there’s a helpline number inside. I love that concept. For more info re the oils click here.


Article re NZ’s first trafficking case Sept 2016