The Ugandan daily, The New Vision of August 10th, 2012 featured a story on its online version which catalogued how Ugandans are being duped into sex slavery in South Eastern Asia. Global human trafficking and sex trade have become and one that authorities must address with much sense of urgency.
My colleague, Ms Tanzina Islam and I have done enormous research works on this subject and we have written seminal papers on the same subject. We are both students of Health Promotion focussing on Global Health. We find that human trafficking is indeed a matter so central to public and community health as well as public policy. In this article, I shall attempt to explore some of the issues central to public health and those that requires the enactment of public policies to address human trafficking and sex enslavement.
Second, the prevailing conditions that generate vulnerability is central to both economic situations and human capacity to overcome these shortfalls. From evidences that we have gathered, it is obvious that poverty and degradation of supportive environment are the two most cardinal factors that enhances susceptibility. Most of the people who are lured into this form of slavery are often poor or indebted people. They are always given false promises of non-existent opportunities to alleviate their conditions. And for Ugandans, it is even worse because of our extra-ordinary affinity for free offers of donations.
This makes it very easy for the perpetrator to harvest human resources for exploitation. Records show clearly that Eastern Africa has become an increasingly high potential harvest zone because of the naivety of the target, destitution and desperation as well as porous borders and lack of strong policies against this vice.
Tanzina and I studied this subject using the socio-ecological framework of analysis which is a key model in health promotion. This model enables a down-up or up-down approach at critically and comprehensively analyzing existing strengths and gaps in services and resources for promoting population health.
It begins by examine individual' capacity – (how adaptive, what skills, knowledge etc), then interpersonal relationships - (social inclusions, social capitals etc), then community's capacity to deal with such health issues (policies, social capital, cultures, traditions, resources, etc) and it examines organizations within communities and how the presence or lack thereof, contributes to needed resources for communities to become self sufficient.
The model also looks at the roles and opportunities within central government, examining policies, priorities, legislations and financial commitments that central government invests in address such key health issues. Beyond the central government are international organizations and the instruments that have been put in place to address such issues.
For human trafficking, the UN.GIFT is such an instrument which brings together multiple stakeholders to address myriad of issues including drug and weapons trafficking, child labour, forceful immigration and many other illegal underworld transactions. Notably, the trade in human slave is the second largest underworld business after drugs and weapons combined. This is a big concern that threatens the tenets of our very civilization..
Given the milieu of globalization, human trafficking is a threat not only to the dignity of those being sold and abused in the sex industry. It reflects equally badly on our society's inability to prevent it from occuring.
It is also a means through which diseases are spread around the world. The most dire consequences are felt at personal and community levels. This despicable illicit trade has major detrimental chronic health outcomes and that trafficking is a major human rights violation. This is a neglected problem that we cannot avoid any longer.
The individuals who are conditioned by the Pimps and Madams into the services of the Johns, clearly are vulnerable and susceptible to many sexually transmitted diseases, mental breakdown and physical abuses among many. Their lives after such experiences can never be reconstructed fully. Even when they return to their communities, they are looked at differently, isolated and in most cases labelled. This labelling further enhances their chances of relapse. Social exclusion is a recipe for one to fall prey to allures as such.
In one of our studies, we found out that in Thailand, most of the rescued women from Europe and other parts of the world, 'they have formed communities of their own as a result of being socially ostracised by their communities. Here, most of the women share experiences, indulge in critical and deep self-reflection as they attempt to reconstruct their lives outside the walls of previous confinement.
As a piece of advise to Ugandans, please avoid taking free offers from foreigners. South Eastern Asia is the hub of this illicit trade, so be very suspicious of anyone offering you employment and free airticket to any of these countries. Further, most of the genuine jobs in these countries don't pay that much for the amount of labour expected. However, the hook in the whole game is when you have to be held captive until you work to pay off the money they invested in your travel and lodging. Usually the amount of money is inflated so that you are exploited fully.
Morris D. C. Komakech.
RN, BscN, PHN; PT, BscPT; SNE (York University); MPH (HP)/MPH (GHC) - University of Toronto
'I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the NRM Parliament.' -Adopted from Ronald Reagan
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