It has been well over 200 years since the abolition of the trans-Atlantic salve trade. But, in spite of that, the despicable practice still continues in various forms all over the world.
Sex slavery, for example, has become a multi-billion-dollar underground industry and it is reported to be the fastest growing form of organised crime in several parts of the world, with an estimated half of million women exported to over 50 countries, including Japan, Italy, Germany, Britain, Canada and United States, as sex slaves. Traffickers often lure their victims with false promises of jobs, education and better lives. Human rights activists, say many victims are duped or coerced into traveling aboard to work as domestic servants, farm labourers or other menial jobs.
Once they have been trapped, victims are denied their basic human rights using methods such as starvation, imprisonment, beatings, torture, rape, gang rape and forced drug use. This breaks down physical and mental health, causing victims to comply. The basis of sex slavery, experts say, is economic and the economic crisis in the world has made the problem even worse. Victims are generally the members of society who are particularly most vulnerable – women who are struggling to make a living, are unemployed or looking for a better life. Lack of economic opportunities, therefore, act as a powerful ‘push factor’ which drives women into the arms of traffickers.
Unfortunately, media reports indicate that Ghana has not been spared this modern-day slavery, with a number of our young women trafficked to other countries and forced to engage in prostitution. Last Tuesday, the Daily Graphic reported that at least 50 Ghanaian women had been lured into the Russian Federation by a human trafficking and prostitution syndicate operating in Ghana and the Russian Federation to practice prostitution.
According to the report, the young women were usually enticed by the guise of further education in Russian universities. To fight the menace of sex trafficking, there is the need for urgent collaborative and extensive public education on the hazards of embarking on adventurous trips overseas to work and also the importance of first making sure that the recommended institution where one intends to further one’s education exists.
One effective way of dealing effectively with the crime is to do away with the root cause, which is poverty. This is because the strongest factor pushing women to seek employment abroad, thereby exposing them to sex slavery, is their inability to make a living in their own country. This, therefore, calls for promoting more economic opportunities for women in the country.
Needless to say, women who own their own thriving businesses or are gainfully employed are less likely to seek work abroad. Governments and other agencies around the world are attempting diverse and often creative ways to combat the problem and we must do the same.