In 2000, 120 nations took a stand against all forms of human trafficking through the Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children and encouraged all signatories to criminalize this rapidly-growing form of slavery. Since then, it has become apparent that the comprehensive elimination of trafficking must have both global and local dimensions—and that those dimensions must focus even more specifically on prevention. Both the supply and demand for trafficking have deep roots and destructive effects in local communities, where cultural and linguistic norms either encourage or discourage this enslavement. By examining cultural attitudes towards success, machismo and violence, this paper discusses the vehicles by which the acceptability of mistreatment towards minorities, women and children is perpetuated to the next generation. By noting connections between poverty and human trafficking, the role of culture, geography and economics in local prevention measures is critically examined. Cultural and geographic differences among communities, which are often seen as hurdles to community awareness campaigns, are shown to be integral characteristics that must shape and define that message. Experiences of communities that have changed the paradigm of trafficked individuals from criminals to victims, demonstrates that education and sensitization of law enforcement can succeed when victim-protection laws are ineffective or nonexistent. This approach emphasizes the need to understand the unique perspectives and needs of individual communities before engaging in anti-trafficking dialogue and recommends culturally and linguistically sensitive approaches to education and sensitization.
ISSHR Conference, 6- 8 October 2011, Tbilissi, Georgia.
Health and Human Rights: Doing Justice, Building Capacity
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