Ash Wednesday morning, the people of Drogheda were greeted by a giant Gift Box on the concourse in front of St Peter’s Church on West Street as part of a nationwide campaign to highlight the issue of people trafficking.
The Gift Box project is an initiative which began with the Loreto
Sisters’ pledge at their general chapter in 2014 to do whatever they
could to combat trafficking, which Pope Francis has described as a new
form of slavery.
One idea which emerged within the Loreto Sisters in Ireland was to
bring the Gift Box around the country as a way of raising awareness of
the issue of trafficking among the public.
The idea was taken up by the umbrella group of religious orders campaigning on this issue – Act to Prevent Trafficking (APT).
The walk-in piece of public art is intended to get people’s attention
and its gift box exterior symbolises the way traffickers entice their
victims with false promises.
Inside the box, true stories of human trafficking are recounted. To
protect the identity of the victims, names have been changed.
Sr Elizabeth Byrne IBVM, who first mooted the idea of bringing the
Gift Box to Ireland, told CatholicIreland.net that the initiative is
launched today – Ash Wednesday – in Drogheda, and the Medical
Missionaries of Mary (MMM) are hosting the event in conjunction with St
Later, the Gift Box will move to Dublin, where it will be located outside the Central Bank and also at DCU.
It will travel to Kilkenny, Limerick, Tralee, Galway, Athlone and Dundalk before it goes back to Belfast.
The month-long awareness raising tour by the Gift Box is based on the
initiative first launched by ‘STOP THE TRAFFIK’ (UK) at the Olympics in
The Irish initiative has the support of ‘No More Traffik’ (Northern
Ireland), the Department of Justice and Equality (Republic of Ireland)
and the Garda Anti Human Trafficking Unit.
“We have been working with the Department of Justice and the Garda
Anti Trafficking Unit and they are behind it and fully endorsing it as
they think it is a great opportunity for the general public to be more
educated about the signs of human trafficking,” Sr Elizabeth said.
She paid tribute to the Government’s efforts to eliminate trafficking
Acknowledging that the problem isn’t found on the scale
here as it is in other countries, she said the Government wants to
ensure that it doesn’t get to that scale. “Sex trafficking has probably
been the biggest form of trafficking.”
Referring to the passing of the Sexual Offences Bill, which
criminalises the purchase of sex, she said she hoped it would deter
traffickers from trying to traffic people into Ireland.
She stressed that trafficking affects every continent and every
country, whether it’s an origin country where people are trafficked
from, a transit country where people are trafficked through, or a
destination country where people are trafficked to. Often a country will
be all three.
People-trafficking is the fastest growing means by which people are
enslaved, the fastest growing international crime, and one of the
largest sources of income for organised crime.
A total of 63,251 victims were detected in 106 countries and territories between 2012 and 2014.
Based on the 17,752 victims detected in 85 countries in 2014 for
which sex and age were reported, a clear majority were females – adult
women and girls – comprising some 70 per cent of the total number of
Females have made up the majority of detected victims since data collecting on trafficking in persons began in 2003 (2016 Global Report on Human Trafficking: UN Office on Drugs and Crime).
Children remain the second most commonly detected group of victims of
trafficking globally after women, ranging from 25 to 30 per cent of the
total over the 2012–2014 period.
This represents a 5 per cent decrease from 2011 – largely due to
reductions in the number of boys detected in 17 reporting countries.
The age profiles of the detected victims vary significantly by
region. For instance, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa detect, by far,
more child victims (64 per cent) than adult victims.
Countries in Central America and the Caribbean also mainly detect
child victims. The wealthier countries of North America, Europe and the
Middle East, on the other hand, typically report relatively small shares
of child victims (20–25 per cent) (2016 Global Report on Human Trafficking: UN Office on Drugs and Crime).
In 2012 it was estimated that at least 20.9 million people were
victims of forced labour worldwide. The research estimated that victims
of trafficking comprised some 44 per cent of this figure (International Labour Organization 2012 Global Estimate of Forced Labour).
The most widespread form of human trafficking in Europe is
trafficking for sexual exploitation – 67 per cent of registered victims.
Labour exploitation accounts for 21 per cent of victims, while 12 per
cent of victims are trafficked for other reasons. 76 per cent of victims
are women and 15 per cent are children.
65 per cent are EU citizens and figures for 2010–2014 show registered
victims coming from Romania, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Hungary and
Poland. Non-EU victims come from Nigeria, China, Albania, Vietnam and
Ireland is a destination and source country for women, men and
children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour – including
forced criminal activity.
Foreign trafficking victims identified in Ireland are from Africa,
Asia, and Eastern Europe. During the reporting period, law enforcement
reported an increase in suspected victims of sex trafficking and forced
labour, forced criminal activity and forced begging.
Authorities reported an increase in suspected victims from Nigeria
and Romania. Irish children are subjected to sex trafficking within the
Victims of forced labour have been identified in domestic service,
the restaurant industry and car washing services. Undocumented migrant
workers are at higher risk of being subjected to labour trafficking.
NGOs indicate Vietnamese and Chinese men who have been prosecuted and
sentenced for cannabis cultivation, and report indicators of forced
labour, such as document retention, restriction of movement and
non-payment of wages.
Media reports claimed undocumented Ghanaian, Filipino, Egyptian and
Indian migrant fishermen endure conditions possibly indicative of forced
labour, including debt bondage, such as document retention, restriction
of movement and non-payment of wages, as well as dangerous working
conditions, and verbal and physical abuse. Some domestic workers,
primarily women, are at risk of labour trafficking.
Trafficking for forced marriage is a newly recognised phenomenon;
women from Eastern Europe are subjected to sex trafficking and
trafficking for forced marriage.
For more information, see: Act to Prevent Trafficking (APT) www.aptireland.org and ‘No More Traffik’ (NI) www.nomoretraffik.com.