The Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement (SMWIPM), in collaboration with the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, will hold an international forum in Luxor from 10 to 12 December. The international conference, headed by Mrs. Mubarak, will discuss a variety of issues relating to human trafficking and success stories. The conference will be attended by a large number of world leaders and heads of major companies.
Human trafficking is the third most profitable illegal business, after weapons and drugs, raking in some $32 billion. The U.S. State Department’s annual report issued last June estimated the number of people (men, women and children) trafficked across international borders each year ranged between 600,000 and 820,000, the majority of them destined to some type of sexual slavery.
Egypt is an exporter, a transit point and a destination for the victims of human trafficking. Here, women and children become victims of forced labor and sexual exploitation, while many are victims of other forms of trafficking, including commercial sexual exploitation, begging, early marriages, sex tourism, forced labor and domestic servitude.
Egypt now has the legislative infrastructure to combat human trafficking. Last year the government created a committee affiliated with Cabinet set to draw up a national strategy to fight the problem. The government has also approved the comprehensive anti-trafficking law no. 64 for the year 2010. The new anti-trafficking law punishes those involved in human trafficking with at least 15 year in jail. According to Nihal Fahmi, a regional consultant on combating human trafficking at the UN Regional office for Drugs and Crime, these new penalties will play an important role in reducing rates of human trafficking in the country. Among the main solutions recommended in the national strategy are increasing law enforcement activities, applying formal victim identification procedures, and implementing a comprehensive information campaign to educate the public.
The law also states that if someone is found guilty of establishing, organizing or running a criminal operation for human trafficking, that person may now face a maximum sentence of 20 years and a LE100,000 fine. Yet, Fahmi explains, the law alone is not enough. “All concerned authorities along with governmental and non-governmental organizations must increase people’s awareness about the harms of early marriages,” she says, adding that Egypt’s street children problem must be firmly solved because they are among the main sources of human trafficking.
Unemployment, poverty and lack of awareness are the main reasons for the presence of human trafficking in Egypt. “Human trafficking is a modern crime that societies suffer from as a result of the negative effects of globalization,” Fahmi argues.
According to the new law, a fund is to be created in order to provide trafficking victims with financial aid to help them lead a respectable life, Fahmi explains, adding that “the government is responsible for the rehabilitation, health and protection of human trafficking victims, because most victims are forced to commit legal violations.”
Upon the approval of the anti-trafficking law, a National Coordinating Committee to Combat and Prevent Trafficking in Persons was also established, headed by Ambassador Naela Gabr. According to Fahmi, the committee is responsible for implementing the related laws and for following up on all reported cases. She adds that “Egypt is expected to accomplish a great leap in the field of combating human trafficking within the coming years” and that people must cooperate with all concerned authorities in order to accomplish this target in the shortest time possible.
According to Gabr, the committee is cooperating with the National Center for Social and Criminological Researches (NCSCR) in preparing studies and data necessary to combat trafficking. “Training sessions are being conducted to increase people’s awareness about the harms of human trafficking. Factors leading to human trafficking such as street children, kidnapping children for adoption abroad, marrying young girls to wealthy Arabs are among the issues addressed to urge people to avoid them,” stated Gabr.