Shifting to other news: Human trafficking remains a silent problem for Belize. We may walk into our local grocery stores and see it happening without realizing. It’s happening right in our own homes and we are completely oblivious to it. It’s for these reasons and more that there is a sustained effort to address the root causes of the problem, which range from economic hardships to corruption. However, advocates and experts say that often times, victims are revictimised because of society’s internal biases. Project Specialist for the Western Hemisphere Project, Michelle Segura spoke more on the issue.
Michelle Segura, Project Specialist, Western Hemisphere Project: “In cases of CSEC or the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children many times you have a culture of victim blaming or revictimization in these cases not taking into account that children worldwide not only in Belize suffer different forms of violence, exploitation and abuse human trafficking being one. Human trafficking is the exploitation of someone particularly in a vulnerable position. When it comes to children we must take into account the revolving capacities so the brain, the body of a child isn’t fully developed. This is not to say that they can’t make decisions depending on their age, the circumstances on decisions that may affect them but it is to say that there are certain rights and protections afforded to them because they are children and they are vulnerable at a different level than adults to these types of exploitation. In Belize violence against children you know knows no boundaries and in many countries as well children are exploited in places that they should be most protected including their homes, their schools and in Belize and globally again many victims know their traffickers. A lot of times it’s parents, it’s a trusted guardian, an uncle, so we have to take all of these issues into account, the harmful practices, and realize that children have the right to be protected from these types of violence, exploitation and abuse so the child protection systems must be in place to help children access vital social services and fair justice systems.”
More than those issues, the focus has been surviving the COVID-19 pandemic and according to the IOM Belize Director, Diana Locke there may be more victims out there. That is why, Locke says, there is a need for continued public awareness because after all, human trafficking does not only affect migrants.
Diana Locke, Director, IOM, Belize: “I come right back to the basic old adage of communication, sharing of information and I come back again to the key that there’s nobody in country more influential than a media core. So I personally believe that- I don’t know if it has been done but if it hasn’t it certainly needs to be done where just like how we’re sitting here with you and talking with you that you could have your media colleagues come together in one room you can get thoroughly briefed by government and stakeholders in the subject area about what they’re doing and what is happening, clear up all of the questions that you have in the back of your mind so when you sit on the talk shows in the morning you’re very much influential people in the minds of young people, old people, you influence everybody with what you bring across and I think that as you learn more, the media learns more I think this is the most effective tool in my mind. The media is the most effective tool at this point in time. Government has been doing a lot of things, IOM has been doing things but we don’t have the capacity out there. We put out a press release and it’s a press release for a day and then it dies away. You guys are the ones who are constantly in front of the public, you are the most influential people around and I feel that that partnership between yourselves is not a sexy topic as Jules Vasquez would say so if it doesn’t sell the news you might not want to talk about it but it doesn’t have to be on the news, it could be in the morning shows, it could be in some of their afternoon programs, it could be factored in a number of ways to bring this information across and create awareness as you said things that Belizeans tend to be dismissive of or we say ‘Cho, that?’ I think those are the things that we need to highlight.”
Last week, the Ministry of Human Development launched the new trafficking in person Module on the Ministry’s case management system: FAMCare in partnership with The International Organization for Migration (IOM), under the framework of the Western Hemisphere Program (WHP).
The platform multi-agency online platform to investigate, track, and manage cases of human trafficking.