Tomorrow (30 July) is the United Nations World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. This year’s theme is the “use and abuse of technology”. 

Human trafficking is the physical movement of people across and within borders through deceptive means, force or coercion. It is a type of modern slavery and is different to people smuggling, though both involve exploitation of a person’s vulnerability. Often times it is used to trap someone in another type of modern slavery. For example, a person is tricked and trafficked out of Australia and whilst overseas forced to marry someone and then brought back to Australia. 

We know that modern slavery exists in Australia, with some 15,000 people estimated as being in a situation of modern slavery on any given day in 2016 (Global Slavery Index, 2018). In Australia, forced marriage and forced labour are particularly prevalent compared to other types of modern slavery.

Use and abuse of technology

Unfortunately, the global expansion in the use of technology has provided traffickers several tools to, amongst others, recruit, exploit and control victims. The internet also provides a way for traffickers to post fake job advertisements targeting vulnerable groups, which can lead to people being trafficked into situations of forced labour. 

A young male using a laptop at home. He is also using his mobile phone for a call

However, technology also provides great opportunities to combat human trafficking; it can assist in locating victim-survivors and aid in investigations and prosecutions. Technology is also a powerful tool that is being used to spread prevention and awareness-raising activities on the safe use of the internet and social media. 

The Benevolent Society’s approach to combatting modern slavery

The Benevolent Society takes a rights-based approach when it comes to combatting modern slavery because, at its core, modern slavery, including human trafficking, is a severe abuse of a person’s human rights. 

Chair of The Benevolent Society’s Human Rights and Modern Slavery Committee, Elaine Leong, states: “At The Benevolent Society we have identified and worked with clients in service delivery who are victim-survivors of forced marriage, some of whom were taken out of Australia and forced to marry.”

“We have launched a modern slavery specific category in our internal risk management system to assist us in capturing data related to modern slavery in service delivery. This is one way we are using data and technology to help combat modern slavery.”

You can read more about how we take a human rights-based approach here