The course was sponsored by the Organisation of American States (OAS) in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Security, Immigration, Labour and Social Security and placed particular focus on the “forced sexual exploitation aspect of trafficking”.
While making a presentation at the event, OAS representative Starret Greene said the trade is sustained because of the presence of three main ingredients: supply, demand and impunity.
Greene indicated that information on the supply aspect of trafficking is very limited, however, he informed that according to US State Department estimates, “between 600,000 to 800,000 persons are trafficked each year.”
He said demand for this type of trafficking is sustained through the “purchasers who are considered to be mostly men…who wish to have sex without commitment or emotional involvement; men who believe that they can ask a prostitute to perform acts that they would hesitate to request from a regular partner; They are men who do not have a regular partner but they believe that sex is necessary for their well-being – in other words it is a basic need; They are men who experience a sense of empowerment in sexual encounters with prostitutes.”
And regarding the supply aspect of the trafficking issue, Greene expressed that several factors influence its rise including poverty, gender inequality and migration.
The difficulty in tracing trafficking routes, and the lack of sufficient information, according to Greene are factors which influence the impunity aspect of trafficking.
“In some cases, international law is rather weak – more like a tiger without teeth and lacks aggression. Where domestic laws exist, they do not go far enough and do not provide much of a deterrent to human trafficking. There’s a sense that local Legislators throughout the Hemisphere seem do not consider it to be a priority in amending or strengthening domestic laws. It is believed that corrupt practices by law enforcement officials, immigration officers and border control personnel, who are willing to accept bribes, turn a blind eye or collude with traffickers, contribute to the impunity. Also, it is argued that although Governments do not promote trafficking, they may have some reservations about applying the full force of the law since the sex industry is extremely profitable and is linked to other sectors such as tourism.”
The answer to this pressing issue, as expressed by the OAS representative is a holistic approach by the government, the private sector and civil society.
“I contend that you, the participants have a role. It is up to you, during this workshop, to suggest the ways and means to change the status quo…All branches of Governments should begin to work in partnership and in earnest with the private sector and civil society organizations to address, in a sustained manner, the dire economic and social inequalities, facing tens of millions of citizens in our hemisphere, particularly women and children. If Governments policies are directed at empowering people so that they will have the opportunities to improve their standard of living through meaningful livelihoods, then, over time, we will begin to see drastic changes in human trafficking that will reduce the trade to a trickle.”
“Believe me, it can be done.”