The UN Office on Drugs and Crime released a report Thursday revealing the negative effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on victims of human trafficking.
As per the report, the pandemic has made it difficult to trace traffickers and has also enabled traffickers to find victims due to the increase in the use of online platforms. The report further stated:
Women and girls have been recruited, often locally or online, for sexual exploitation, especially in private apartments. Children have been particularly affected- out of school and needing to support parents who have lost their livelihoods, children have been increasingly targeted by traffickers at the local level and online. They have been trafficked for sexual purposes, forced marriage, forced begging and for forced criminality
The report highlights the social ostracization faced by trafficking victims, who are often blamed by the local community for causing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The trafficking victims have struggled to access even basic necessities such as accommodation and medical assistance due to lockdowns and restrictions on movement.
Moreover, the increased focus on controlling the spread of the COVID-19 virus by law enforcement agencies around the world has reduced the legal protection of trafficking victims.
The report made several recommendations, including providing assistance to trafficking victims and victims of domestic violence to leave their place of residence without any consequences for doing so during lockdowns.