THE EDITOR, Madam:
Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain free or low-cost labour or commercial sex benefits, and it is reported that hundreds of Jamaican men, women, and children are trafficked each year and are suspected to be shipped abroad for either sexual or labour exploitation.
The modus operandi is to use violence, manipulation, or false promises of romantic liaisons and/or lucrative jobs as an allure, and the number one impediment to rescuing victims of human trafficking is identifying them.
Jamaica needs a national human trafficking hotline; it is not enough to simply institute a website. The Ananda Alert system is a good start; now let us improve on that.
We also need a working partnership with the United States, Canada, and Great Britain aimed at recovering trafficked victims as these countries constitute the largest markets for this diabolical trade.
It is considered a hidden crime since perpetrators often use fear of the trafficker or the countries’ law-enforcement apparatuses, physical and psychological abuse, and cultural or language barriers to prevent victims from seeking help.
Jamaica lacks a viable social safety net and has rife poverty and economic hardship, which creates a tsunami of psychological and emotional victims. Traffickers know this, so they look for people with this susceptibility.
We must get serious about combating this scourge. The first place to start is to shore up Jamaica’s ability to identify victims.
I kindly ask our judiciary to reconsider its disastrous opposition to a mandatory National Identification System. It is not good enough to say we need better policing. We need that for sure, but we also need all the tools in the toolbox.
We also need to foster a culture of each of us looking out for the other. Law enforcement, customs, and immigration personnel need to be trained in the techniques of identifying victims.
People, overall, need to be sensitised about being able to discern when their intuition is telling them that something is not quite right about a particular scenario.
For the 340 missing children since last year and the thousands missing over the years, let us do this on their behalf and that of their families.