Anti-Human Trafficking Club a good idea worth replicating

Thursday, May 30, 2019

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Kudos are in order for Port Antonio High School, which is establishing a Anti-Human Trafficking Club with the help of the police.

A story in our sister publication, Jamaica Observer North & East, on Monday, reported that Deputy Superintendent of Police Carl Berry, head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, is helping with the formation of the club which will target grades 10 and 11 students.

According to Deputy Superintendent Berry, the idea of creating the club — the first such at a school in Jamaica — was spawned from a recent seminar he hosted on behalf of the police force, which was attended by Port Antonio High Principal Mr Basil Graham, teachers Ms Kerine Grant and Mr Fitzroy Johnson, and some students.

“Many people simply do not understand the horrible nature of human trafficking, so when they hear about the cruelty meted out to others right here in our land, for the first time, they are shocked,” Deputy Superintendent Berry was reported as saying.

“Some respond, and thankfully Port Antonio High has responded with the idea of establishing an Anti-Human Trafficking Club and, for sure, I will be working with the principal, the teachers, and students to make this project an active reality,” he said.

This initiative, we expect, will help to protect Jamaicans — particularly children — from what is one of the most heinous crimes which, according to the National Taskforce Against Trafficking in Persons, is the most under-reported in the world.

Local authorities estimate that hundreds of Jamaicans are, or have been, victims of human trafficking. A report from the government information arm earlier this year stated that between 2010 and 2016, a total of 62 victims had been rescued.

Worldwide, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in its Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, has reported that data gathered from 155 countries show that the most common form of human trafficking is sexual exploitation, at 79 per cent. “The victims of sexual exploitation are predominantly women and girls,” the report stated.

“Surprisingly,” the report revealed, “in 30 per cent of the countries which provided information on the gender of traffickers, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers. In some parts of the world, women trafficking women is the norm”.

The UNODC also reported that the second most common form of human trafficking is forced labour (18 per cent). However, the agency cautioned that this figure “may be a misrepresentation, because forced labour is less frequently detected and reported than trafficking for sexual exploitation”.

This is data that should give us grave cause for concern, especially as the UNODC also told us that, worldwide, almost 20 per cent of all trafficking victims are children.

We can therefore see the dire need for the type of information, advice and assistance that the Anti-Human Trafficking Club at Port Antonio High will offer, as children are most vulnerable, particularly in this age of high technology to which so many of them are glued.

Port Antonio High School's initiative in this very serious matter is worth replicating islandwide in an effort to increase the avenues to protect our children.

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