Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia: Vulnerability by Saanvi Kataria
Unfortunately, in Southeast Asia, thousands of people are exposed to the violence of human trafficking, while the government remains aloof. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), around 10,000 people were trafficked in Southeast Asia from 2007-2010 (Building Coalitions).
10,000 people. That’s the amount of people one usually sees at a sports game.
The reason why so many people are vulnerable is because they want to help their family. They go out into the world, doe-eyed, looking for opportunity in this unfair place, but succumb to the easy demands of a broker. There are many types of brokers, and corrupt ones are common in human trafficking; they are people who arrange the assets and demands for other people. It is these people that connect young women and men to the “business”. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), many people migrate to find high-paying jobs, but are then used for labor, fishing, domestic work, construction, and much more (Callebero-Anthony).
In general, China and Southeast Asia are seeing more cases of bride trafficking because of the gender imbalance from the One-Child Policy, although that doesn’t exist anymore. In the Philippines, sexual exploitation can also happen online, especially with children; it is unfortunately very common. Cambodia and Thailand have also supplied pornographic material as a business for profit. In addition, because most countries in Southeast Asia have monsoon seasons, natural disasters, or typhoons, traffickers look for people who have lost their homes, jobs, and ways of life. These people are separated from their families in their most vulnerable state.
Some of the solutions that have been made include the Palermo Protocol from the UN and the “ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children”. The Palermo Protocol is divided into three segments, and they each describe the different stages of human trafficking clearly for other nations to understand (Callebero-Anthony). The latter takes the international human trafficking framework into account. Even though there are numerous resources, there will always be corrupt officials or people in power that do not accomplish anything because they lack the information for reform. Many traffickers can often be involved with corrupt officials who help them move victims across borders illegally. For example, between Thailand and Malaysia in 2015, mass graves of victims were found along a border. Around 62 police officers and a Thai general were involved in this horrible, inhumane process (Callebero-Anthony).
Many frameworks often try to disband traffickers and their “businesses”, but not enough resources are there to help those who are trying to recover and to protect potential victims. More should be done to protect those who are vulnerable, such as by giving high-risk individuals the proper resources and assistance, to prevent people from falling victim to a trafficker’s lie. Furthermore, it is imperative to find out the root problem of how vulnerability spreads in a certain region, so that officials can allocate the right resources to replace that corruption with education or to slow down the rate of trafficking.
Building Coalitions to End Trafficking in Asia. 2013. https://www.equalitynow.org/building_coalitions_to_end_trafficking_in_asia. Accessed 24 August 2020.
Building Coalitions to End Trafficking in Asia. 2019. https://www.equalitynow.org/building_coalitions_to_end_trafficking_in_asia. Accessed 24 August 2020.
Caballero-Anthony, M. “F&D Article.” 2017. https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2018/09/human-trafficking-in-southeast-asia-caballero.htm. Accessed 24 August 2020.