Alice, a bright blue-eyed eight year old, was born into a poor family with many brothers and sisters. The cost of raising them became too much for her parents so they chose to sell Alice. Alice was told she was going on a trip to the big city to buy clothes and to work for a loving family.
The journey was long but exciting and Alice's mind was occupied with wondrous questions - "What will her new family be like" "Is the house pretty" "When will her parents come to visit" Upon arriving at the city's edge, the pimp hailed a taxi and Alice concluded her new home must be a splendid place since the taxi driver needed no instructions on how to get there. Alice loved the burst of the city's busyness as she peered out the window and was impressed because this was her first car ride. The taxi came to a halt. "This is it!" the pimp said fiercely, pulling Alice roughly like a rag doll as he guided her along a series of poorly lit corridors. The place was strange and the faces of the people were painted in ways that Alice had never seen before. In dismay Alice felt the weight of the world fall upon her tiny shoulders for this was not how she imagined the big city.
"Welcome to your new home," the pimp said harshly; and without hesitation or emotion he pushed Alice into a tiny cell. The resounding bang of the dead bolt locking into place closed a chapter of this young and innocent girl's life. Imprisoned in this damp rat-infested chamber, Alice sensed she must escape, but her only escape was to picture herself at home playing with her favourite doll. The dreams and promises of being a model, an actress or a seamstress were broken. How will she make her family proud now Alice, who loved to play with dolls, was soon to become one like so many others, a temporary replaceable item.
Contrary to popular belief, slavery is not dead. Approximately 27 million men, women and children are currently being subjected to sexual exploitation, forced labour or other illicit activities as victims of human trafficking. This is more than when slavery was legal. A US$32 billion-a-year industry makes it the fastest growing and third largest organized global crime close behind drugs and arms trafficking. Isn't it ironic that such a profitable business is fuelled by the poorest countries but serves almost exclusively the most affluent countries The United Nations (UN) believes that approximately two million children are being used in domestic service, sweatshops, quarries and factory work.
Since the 1960s South Korea has achieved an incredible record growth, and integrated itself into a high-tech modern global economy. Yet, within this high-tech utopia, lies this sinister activity - human trafficking. There are no reliable estimates but according to the office of the Attorney General in the U.S.; in 2006 among all source countries, the highest population of trafficking victims originated in Korea, followed by Thailand, Peru and Mexico. Almost all Korean women smuggled or trafficked to the U.S. are subjected to debt bondage forcing them to pay for their travelling expenses; and once in the U.S. they incur even more debt (food, rent, utilities, medications and condoms). Korea is also a hot-spot destination for sexually exploited females from other countries.
Cambodia, Laos (Lao PDR), Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam and the Yunnan Province of China, share the Mekong River and belong to the Greater Mekong Sub-region. In 2005 they pledged to work jointly over the next 10 years to combat this heinous crime of human trafficking in this region.
In 2006 Susu Thatun, program manager of the UN Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong sub-region, reported that nearly one-third of the global trafficking trade or about 200,000 to 225,000 women and children were trafficked annually from Southeast Asia. This made it one of the world's most rampant human trafficking areas. She went on to say that in the past women and children had been reported as trafficked victims; now boys and men were also been identified as victims in the sex trade, heavy labour, begging, marriage and the fishing industry.
On April 14, 2010, Mexico became the world's first country to launch their own national version of the UN's "Blue Heart" prevention campaign against human trafficking. Spain will join them in June.
The story of Alice is fictional but there are countless stories just like hers from around the world that are true. Greater enforcement is needed one world with one voice to put an end to this horrific and tragic crime. All Alice wanted to do was play with her dolls, not be one.