A few days ago, local newspapers published a small but important report about a Kuwaiti official from the interior ministry who received a representative of the Interpol Organization for Combating Human Trafficking. The security official assured the guest on Kuwait’s efforts in strengthening relations with Interpol by supporting its anti-trafficking programs.
I believe that this is important for several reasons, because ignorance of the seriousness of a crime may lead to it. Innocent people can fall victim to trafficking gangs with no way out, especially since this crime is not committed by an individual or an insane person, but an organized criminal network. Like anything else in our world today, it has traders, a black market and clients, so we need to be careful and cautious in dealing with the subject. Governments are required to act to combat this epidemic.
I am surprised that at a time when Arab and Gulf countries are occupied with several less important issues, I find such a crime is not widely discussed and is neglected and absent from the media. People should be aware of the seriousness of this offense and how to deal with it. The annual report by the US State Department on ‘Trafficking in Human Beings for 2016’ lists several crimes under trafficking, such as prostitution, human organ trade, enslavement of individuals as a result of poverty, begging and forced labor of children.
A number of Arab countries are included in the report, with Yemen an exception because of a lack of sufficient and reliable data due to the turmoil there. According to the report, women and children in Yemen are most vulnerable to human trafficking.
I think that the report focused on the spread of trafficking in people in troubled countries or conflict areas and war zones, but I see that even countries outside the conflict are subjected to this crime. Today’s children and teenagers are the biggest users of the Internet and social media, talking about and discussing what they want without the guidance or knowledge of parents, and may become victims of traders in human organs and white slavery.
Kuwait has established a shelter for female victims of human trafficking. Work is ongoing for the establishment of a shelter for men too, but we often see this crime as harmful only to women and children. The Kuwaiti official said that it tries to maintain close relations with international organizations to implement anti-trafficking programs, stressing the keenness of the ministry of interior to participate in meetings related to control this crime.
I still believe public awareness is essential here, because people may not know what is trafficking in human beings and how to deal with this issue in the event of such an attempt. There are real efforts to combat this scourge in society, but we have to realize that it is not only the interior ministry’s responsibility, but a shared one. The ministries of education and information must be involved in raising awareness, especially for schools kids and teenagers. I trust this is a good achievement compared to many Arab countries that need to wake up to this threat.
By Muna Al-fuzai