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The Social Injustice that is Human Trafficking

Today on World Social Justice Day and every day of the year, SOHTIS is committed to ‘Closing the Inequalities Gap’ which lead to human trafficking.

Social justice is described as equal access to wealth, opportunities and privileges within society. SOHTIS advocates for social justice, as its counterpart- social injustice in the form of poverty, unemployment and inequalities creates vulnerabilities often resulting in trafficking.

People living in poverty searching for a better life are susceptible to being trafficked as traffickers offer a way to earn money. In reality, many will be treated poorly, they will earn little if anything and any profits reaped from their hard work will go back into the hands of their traffickers.

Unemployment goes hand in hand with poverty, as both can make people more prone to human trafficking. The lack of employment opportunities may lead to people migrating from their hometowns and countries in seek of a job. Traffickers typically offer them job opportunities that seem legitimate, only to force them into a trafficking situation in areas such as domestic service, agriculture, fishing, nail bars and car washes as well as in sexual exploitation.

In addition, survivors of trafficking face unique challenges finding employment following their recovery from the hands of their traffickers. These include; lack of a standard work history, no stable home address, stolen or missing documentation, they may have a criminal history associated with their trafficking experience, face stigmatisation or experience post-traumatic stress disorder from their experience of being trafficked. To enable equal access to employment, SOHTIS encourages businesses to create internal policies and practices which foster work cultures where survivors of complex trauma can thrive and access employment opportunities. The SOHTIS Next Steps Project will assist survivors to develop community based networks, secure stable accommodation and access quality training and employment opportunities, leading to sustainable income.
By supporting their integration into society and sustainable employment, we can reduce their susceptibility to further exploitation.

Poverty is also inextricably linked to difficulties obtaining high levels of education. A lack of education can lead to decreased opportunities for work at a living wage, and it can also lead to a decreased knowledge in rights. Both outcomes can cause people to be at a greater vulnerability of human trafficking. This link between poverty and education can be experienced for example; as parents working long hours due to their financial situation have fewer opportunities to help their children with their homework; children living in low-income households being more likely to live in a crowded home. Restricted physical space within their homes, can create problems for the child to find a private or quiet environment conducive to studying; the financial cost required to pay for educational resources may act as a barrier to education. SOHTIS believes in individual empowerment and resilience building and aims to support people to make changes within their communities, rejecting trafficking.

Traffickers target individuals who have few privileges or rights within society, as they can have little protection from law enforcement, their families and even the society they live within. These individuals may face marginalisation based upon their ethnicity, age, gender etc. For example, the Rohingya people who were denied citizenship following the 1982 (Burma) Citizenship Law resulting in many fleeing persecution, however, in doing so becoming vulnerable to exploitation and traffickers who take advantage of people in desperate situations lacking legal defence. This highlights the importance of prioritising equal recognition of rights. People from all over the world find themselves trafficked to the UK. By working with the Scottish Government in the implementation of their Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy 2017, SOHTIS is working to ensure that all those recovered from trafficking in Scotland, whatever their ethnicity, gender, age and location of recovery have equal access to the support they deserve.

Today we recognise that social injustice is at the root of human trafficking. The eradication of poverty, unemployment and inequality can see a sizable impact upon the reduction of trafficking across the globe and at home here in Scotland. By supporting practices promoting equal access to wealth, opportunities and privileges we can successfully celebrate the World Day of Social Justice!

Naomi Sutton

Call to Action

SOHTIS believes everyone deserves to live in freedom with dignity and respect.

There are ways that we can all be involved in being part of the solution to human trafficking in Scotland. Some as simple as raising awareness by following SOHTIS on social media and sharing our posts or volunteering skills, linking us with useful networking contacts or donating funds.

Please get in touch to find out how you can join us in our support of survivors.

Email: enquiries@sohtis.org

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