Tobago has not been immune to criminal activity with occurrences of women and school-aged girls disappearing.
Secretary of Health and Social Services, Assemblyman Claudia Groome-Duke, said it was time that Tobagonains were aware of the threat of human trafficking to its society. She said that 2011 statistical data showed that women and girls from age eleven were trafficked.
She said: “Because of the geographical location of Trinidad and Tobago, we are high-risked for the trans-shipment and the transitioning of women and girls who are trapped in very sad ways.” She indicated that she’d read an article stating that people were being bought, smuggled, and sold like modern-day slaves.
“They’re often beaten, stabbed, and forced to work as prostitutes, or to take grueling jobs. These jobs have little or no pay.”
The United Nations estimates that at least 2.45 million persons are trafficked yearly. Eighty percent of those are women.
The Human Trafficking seminar was hosted by Soroptimist International. The seminar was themed “Promoting Awareness and Response to Human Trafficking.” International Women’s Day, designated by the UN and marked on March 8, is in its 101st year.
The Tobago House of Assembly supports social safety nets for women and girls; and fosters public and private partnerships to address lingering risks to this demographic.
Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, outdone only in profits by illegal drug trafficking.
President of Soroptimist, Scarborough, Pamela Leslie told audience members that in Tobago there was a level of complacency to human trafficking. “We find this fact very disconcerting and are convinced that such innocence or disregard can invariably work to our detriment.” She said, “This seminar was prompted mainly by the devastating manner in which human trafficking has been impacting societies worldwide.” These negative changes threaten both family security and young people.
She also pointed out this was “an important seminar aimed at promoting the awareness of human trafficking in Trinidad and Tobago.”
There are five Soroptimist International clubs in Trinidad and Tobago, with one located in Tobago.
Leslie challenged Tobagonians to assume a more vigilant and proactive response to human trafficking.