By Corina Oliquino
FilAm Star Correspondent
Thomson Reuters Foundation survey of about 550 experts on the worst countries for women when it comes to human trafficking (forced to wed, work and sell sex), lists India, Libya, Myanmar, Nigeria and Russia as the world’s most dangerous countries.
According to the United Nations and rights group Walk Free Foundation, women and girls account for seven in 10 victims of an industry estimated to affect 40 million people worldwide and generate illegal annual profits of $150 billion for traffickers.
“They are uniquely vulnerable because of their subordinate status economically, socially and culturally,” Christa Hayden Sharpe from the charity International Justice Mission told the Thomson Reuters Foundation report.
The Report also highlighted how women and girls are increasingly being targeted and trapped by traffickers using a variety of tactics, “from detention centers in Libya and curses cast by priests in Nigeria, to porous borders in Myanmar and visa abuses around the World Cup in Russia.”
In India, the survey’s most dangerous country for women for trafficking and exploitation, about two-thirds of the 15,000 trafficking cases registered involved female victims – nearly half were under 18 – with most sold in sex work or domestic servitude.
Indian women and girls also face the biggest threat from traffickers because “they are still widely considered to be sexual objects and second-class citizens.”
“Trafficking is a global issue but of all the victims I have seen, I have found those from southeast Asia, mainly India, the most vulnerable,” Triveni Acharya of the Indian anti-trafficking charity Rescue Foundation said.
“Girls continue to be seen as a burden on parents, inferior to boys,” Acharya added, explaining how many rural girls are lured by traffickers who promise jobs or marriages in major cities.
In Libya, the survey’s second most dangerous country for women for trafficking and exploitation, reports persist of captured migrants being bought and sold in “slave markets.”
According to reports by the United Nations’ Human Rights Office and the European Union, many migrants are detained and suffer forced labor.
“The situation of migrant women and girls traveling through Libya is really dire,” Hanan Salah, a senior researcher focusing on Libya for Human Rights Watch said.
“I would say that the majority of them face the risk of ill-treatment and abuse,” Salah added.
On the other hand, women in Myanmar are in the spotlight after the exodus of 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh to escape persecution following a security crackdown last year.
According to the survey, Rohingya women are being forced into marriages in China, the most common destination country for trafficking victims from Myanmar — accounting for two-thirds of the 307 cases investigated by the latter’s government in 2016.
“A lack of jobs in Myanmar means poor girls and women fall prey to traffickers – many of them female – who take them to China under false pretenses as brides for men in a nation with a gender imbalance due to its one-child policy,” campaigners say.
Meanwhile, rounding out the top 10 most dangerous countries for women at the hands of traffickers were the Philippines, Afghanistan, Thailand, Nepal, and Bangladesh and Pakistan in all at thetenth spot.
“The new dimension is (the traffickers) are now telling the girls that they will get them jobs as nurses and house help in Dubai … (with) travel documents … making it look legal,” Julie Okah-Donli, head of anti-trafficking agency NAPTIP said.
According to Russian anti-slavery group Alternativa, which was cited in the report, Russia is now a major source and destination country for female victims, with local women being sex trafficked to Europe and the Middle East, and arrivals coming from nations such as Thailand, China, and Nigeria.
“While Russia’s strict visa process has long made trafficking women into the nation a difficult endeavor, criminals have been plotting to exploit the World Cup which allows visitors to enter visa-free if they hold a ticket and football fan pass,” the group added.
“This is a real present for traffickers,” Julia Siluyanova of Alternativa said.