We all know the red ribbon is a symbol for HIV/Aids awareness. Did you know human trafficking awareness has a symbol too?
Have you heard of the Blue Heart?
Earlier this year a friend gave me a little blue heart pin. The pin is similar to the red HIV ribbon, but it symbolises something very dear to my heart. I am pretty passionate about anti-human trafficking awareness and combating modern day slavery!
What is Human Trafficking?
The United Nations
Human Trafficking is defined in the Trafficking Protocol as “the recruitment, transport, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a person by such means as threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud or deception for the purpose of exploitation.”
The definition of trafficking consists of three core elements:
1) The action of trafficking which means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons
2) The means of trafficking which includes
threatof or use of force, deception, coercion, abuse of power or position of vulnerability
– United Nations
3) The purpose of trafficking which is always exploitation. In the words of the Trafficking Protocol, article 3 “exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced
labouror services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs
Let’s be very honest, I’m passionate about anti-human trafficking, but reading the above definition has my eyes doubling over. So let me make it easy to understand.
Four Stages of Human Trafficking
The easiest way to understand human trafficking is to understand the four stages of trafficking:
A person is generally tricked with an opportunity that seems too good to be true. Examples of what typically happens when a person is tricked
They are then transported to a different location. If the person is kept in the same location, it would be easy to find help or change your mind and return to the safety of their family. Transportation has deferent implications, it could be from a rural area to a city; from city to city; between neighbouring countries or taken even abroad.
Once the victim arrives at the new location, they find themselves trapped. Mentally manipulated, locked in a room, raped, threatened with their own life or the lives of family members and or addicted to drugs. In the case of forced labour, a person’s passport, identification documentation and or work permit is often confiscated, leaving the person vulnerable – literally trapped in a foreign location.
Finally, when they are trapped, they are used. Again, being used, take on different forms through prostitution, forced labour, child marriages and organ harvesting. To name but a few.
Human Trafficking in South Africa
Human slavery happens in South-Africa. In actual fact
South Africa is a source or donor country. Victims are sourced here and taken to various parts of the country and world.
Victims from all around the world are brought to South-Africa. Illegal immigrants seek refuge in South Africa. They are vulnerable and desperate for work, which makes them an easy target for forced labour.
It is also a known fact that a good brothel has variety. Victims from different native backgrounds and countries provide needed variety in these brothels.
Victims are transported to destinations countries via our airports, borders and ports.
Think about it. OR Tambo is a booming airport hub in Africa. Our ports and borders are largely unprotected. Even when they are protected, bribing an official is fairly easy.
There are many exploitative purposes and reasons to traffick people, here are but a few purposes:
– Forced marriage, begging, labour
– Sexual exploitation
– Organs removal
– Selling children
– Child soldiers
The Blue Heart Campaign
The Blue Heart Campaign is United Nation initiative. It demonstrates the UN’s commitment to combat human trafficking.
Some interesting Facts
The blue used in the Blue Heart is one of the UN colours.
The blue heart symbolizes the sadness of victims of human trafficking. As well as the coldheartedness of the perpetrators.
For more information and to get involved, go to unodc.org/blueheart
A Little Makes a Lot
I wear my blue heart as a pin on my work jacket. Not only is does it keep victims in my
The aviation sector – Airports Council International (ACI) World and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – are committed to the fight against human trafficking. Read more about it here.
The National Freedom Network fights injustice and
No single organisation can combat human trafficking, we need to stand together, as a body and fight.