Mungreiphy Shimray, programme officer for Caritas India
I’m really happy to be here at Bélem. It’s so incredible that people who are so different and who speak different languages are drawn together for the same goal and are taking action on social justice.
On a global level, Asia is the continent which has the most trafficking victims. The International Labour Organization estimates that 1.4 million people are affected by trafficking on the continent.
Not only within the continent, but also beyond. For examples, numerous Sri Lankans are enslaved in domestic service in Lebanon. For this reason we collaborate quite a lot with the Caritas members in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.
In India, meanwhile, between 80 and 90 percent of victims are Indian. A combination of poverty and cultural elements such as the caste system make people vulnerable to exploitation.
Vulnerable groups are essentially women and children, who may be exploited in domestic work, tourism or in the sex industry. Children in particular are at risk of being forced to beg by adults or take drugs from one country to another, or even go and become cannon fodder in armed conflicts such as the one in Myanmar.
Caritas India has been engaged in the prevention of trafficking since 1995. We have also worked on advocacy activities. It is essential that India has the necessary legal tools to fight the phenomenon. We don’t have a law which considers, recognises and integrates the different forms of trafficking. We only have a law which addresses the sexual dimension of trafficking, but not forced work, organ trafficking or domestic slavery. We are currently engaged in advocacy to regulate domestic workers. Often, these people are paid less than the equivalent of 10 euros per month. We also organise the “National Day Against Trafficking” which falls on the same day as Human Rights Day because we consider trafficking to be the worst form of violation of human rights.
We need to act together to raise awareness on behalf of potentially vulnerable people, but also to make sure that traffickers and their networks are beaten more effectively.