The United Nations defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, or coercion) for an improper purpose including forced labour or sexual exploitation.”
The Global Report from UN Office on Drugs and Crime states that 79 per cent of all trafficking victims in Central America and the Caribbean are women and girls.
Most of these victims are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation and domestic servitude, whereas the majority of men are trafficked for labour exploitation.
Victims are frequently tricked into agreeing to go to another country to work and then held against their will in a different occupation.
A Week of Awareness on Human Trafficking was initiated by the Counter Trafficking Unit TT (CTU) in partnership with The InterClub of T&T, an umbrella group of women’s service organisations, of which Soroptimist International Esperance is a member.
Activities included interviews, announcements and videos about human trafficking on all media. Particularly enlightening is The Story of Maria—Eye on Dependency on YouTube.
Even before its charter in December 2018, Soroptimist International Esperance has been advocating for the cessation of gender-based violence which includes human trafficking. Their Men in Orange programme urged men to speak out if they were aware of gender-based violence.
In 2019, Soroptimists were actively involved in the InterClub of T&T’s seminar at the Trinidad Hilton A Conversation about Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation.
In 2020, the club partnered with The InterClub to paint benches orange and affix advocacy messages with useful telephone numbers. The club also gave support to The Halfway House in cash and kind.
In 2021, Soroptimist International Esperance, in fellowship with their English-speaking sister clubs of the Caribbean Network, designed and printed six banners to create awareness of human trafficking and to advocate for the confidential reporting of suspicious behaviour.
Two of the banners were erected at the Port Authority of T&T in Port-of-Spain, and the others were placed at venues in south Trinidad where there is a heavy migrant population.
Esperance president, Denyse Ewe’s interview by CNC3 was broadcast on its news programme on UN World Day against Trafficking in Persons, July 30.
This can be seen in its totality on the Soroptimist International Esperance YouTube Channel.
She explained that the club was creating awareness through its social media platforms, and appealed to the public to pay closer attention and to report any suspicious activity that may indicate human trafficking.
She added: “If you suspect that someone is being trafficked, held against their will, working in conditions that you know that it’s not something they are doing of their own free will, do call the Counter Trafficking unit. It’s very easy to remember, 800 4CTU (Counter Trafficking Unit).”