Empower woman to fight human trafficking – Hamilton
Director of the FI WI Jamaica Project, Professor Rosalea Hamilton, is adamant that empowering Jamaicans, especially women, through entrepreneurship can reduce their participation in human trafficking.
Citing statistics from the National Taskforce Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), Hamilton noted that most of the victims of human trafficking are women from less fortunate backgrounds, and with limited education.
"The study found that 80 per cent of the victims of trafficking were women under the age of 24; and NATFATIP also reported that not only are women the main victims; they are also the main perpetrators," said Hamilton.
"It means that more women are recognising that they can profit from this crime."
Human trafficking involves the recruiting, transporting, transfer, harbouring, or receiving of persons by improper means through force, abduction, fraud, or intimidation for activities such as: forced labour or sexual exploitation.
"We are looking to entrepreneurship to encourage women and men to shift their focus to other ventures which are legal and morally right," said Hamilton, who was guest presenter at the Community Business Shub Out: No Crime, No Violence Edition 2017, in Spanish Town, St Catherine, recently.
The 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report by the US Department of State has ranked Jamaica at Tier Two for its efforts to fight human trafficking in 2016.
Tier Two consists of those countries whose governments do not fully meet the Trafficking Victims' Protection Act minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to comply, and is an improvement over Jamaica's placement on a Tier Two watch list in 2013.
"You sometimes find that many of the victims were forced into the exploitative relationship by family members. For example, in the case of children, it could be an aunt or uncle. In other cases, it could be a friendly person, under the guise of recruiting them for jobs overseas.
"However, what we have found is that many times women also participate in trafficking girls. And, of course, boys are also trafficked," said Hamilton.
Education and Empowerment
According to Hamilton, part of the mandate of her organisation is working to make more persons aware of the human-trafficking issue through education and empowerment.
"We have been doing forums, such as this, to educate persons about the signs of a person who is a victim of trafficking.
"We often say to them that entrepreneurship is a better path because it gives you the independence of earning your own money. Some are now realising that owning their own business can be a viable career option and better than crime."
In the meantime, Jacqueline Shaw-Nicholson, communication and client services manager at JN Small Business Loans, agreed that entrepreneurship is a viable alternative to a life of crime.
"The facts outlined emphasise the need to embrace entrepreneurship as a positive alternative and a means of gainful employment," she said. "It is hard work, but can be financially and personally rewarding, with good business management."
Shaw-Nicholson encouraged persons who were already operating businesses and desire to earn more to begin to think creatively about how they can expand their operations or offerings to earn more.
"Sometimes your operation can start small by simply selling pastry from your homes, producing bag juices or using your IT skills in your community. We often have skills or talents that are overlooked and can be turned into viable businesses.
"Look again at your community and surrounding areas to identify what service, solution, or product is needed and how you may be able to provide that in a profitable way," said Shaw-Nicholson.