How COVID-19 crisis facilitated human trafficking and exploitation all across the world

According to the report, in some countries, including the United States, landlords force their tenants (usually women) to have sex with them when they are unable to pay rent.

According to the United States, the Covid-19 pandemic has created an “ideal environment” for human trafficking to thrive. The situation has deteriorated because the government has diverted the majority of its resources to the health crisis; therefore, the traffickers are taking advantage of vulnerable people.

The State Department’s 2021 “Trafficking in Persons” Report

The Secretary of State Antony Blinken said:

Nearly 25 million people worldwide are estimated to be victims of human trafficking. Many are compelled into commercial sex work. Many are forced to work in factories or fields or join armed groups. It’s a global crisis. It’s an enormous source of human suffering.

The State Department report read:

The Covid-19 pandemic has generated conditions that increased the number of people who experienced vulnerabilities to human trafficking and interrupted existing and planned anti-trafficking interventions. Governments across the world diverted resources toward the pandemic, often at the expense of anti-trafficking efforts.

The report further stated:

At the same time, human traffickers quickly adapted to capitalize on the vulnerabilities exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic.

Kari Johnstone, acting director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, said:

This confluence of factors resulted in an ideal environment for human trafficking to flourish and evolve. For example, in India and Nepal, young girls from poor and rural areas are often expected to leave school to help support their families during economic hardship. Some are forced into marriage in exchange for money, while others are forced to work to supplement the lost income.

According to the report, in some countries, including the United States, landlords force their tenants (usually women) to have sex with them when they are unable to pay rent. Gangs in other nations prey on people in camps for displaced persons.

Call for Protection

The State Department’s report ranks countries around the world based on their compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000.

Six countries have been downgraded from Tier 1 (the highest-ranking countries) to Tier 2 (countries that do not “fully meet” the TVPA’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance). These countries include Pakistan, Cyprus, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, and Switzerland.

Four countries — Belarus, Burundi, Lesotho, and Papua New Guinea — were removed from Tier 3 and placed on the Tier 2 watch list.

Two nations — Guinea-Bissau and Malaysia — were added to the Tier 3 list (worst offender countries), a list that already includes Afghanistan, Algeria, China, the Comoros, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia, South Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Venezuela. The United States may restrict foreign assistance to Tier 3 nations subject to presidential approval.

According to sources, the governments of 11 of these Tier 3 nations have a “policy or pattern” of state-sponsored human trafficking in government-funded programs. Blinken said:

Governments should protect and serve their citizens, not terrorize and subjugate them for profit.

After the release of the report, many authority figures are stepping up to talk about citizen protection. People are urging the governments of these countries to fund security initiatives and limit the occurrences of trafficking incidents.

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