The Role of the Youth in Higher Learning Institutions in Countering Human Trafficking

Article by Njenga Kuria- Coordinator of International Movement of Catholic Students– Kenya

This symposium: Counter human trafficking symposium for the grassroots organizations in East Africa, for me is a testament of the fact that while human trafficking continues to be a growing worldwide crisis that affects us all, there is also an increasingly active global movement that is determined to put a stop to it.

Many people don’t realize how the threat of human trafficking is everywhere. It’s in the parks where children play, on the internet where they socialize and learn. We don’t realize how easily people can be tricked into giving up their rights and freedoms, or the level of suffering, torture and abuse that victims are being subjected to.

And, although, there is a clear definition of human trafficking, the lines of exploitation are so blurred between child labour, migrant labour, exploitative labour, and illegal labour and trafficking, that it can be easy to lose sight of the issue at hand.

Traffickers exploit people’s desire to lead better lives. The faces masked by human trafficking are those of young women and men trying to escape from the clutches of poverty, from the chains of abuse. They are those of innocent children – torn from their families and communities to serve in forced industrial and domestic labour, in agricultural work, and of course, in the sex industry.

What we are dealing with here, therefore, is a complex and multi-dimensional challenge – one that is linked to societal ills such as poverty, inequality and organized crime – one that for so long has been misunderstood and underestimated.

International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) is a movement for catholic students at the higher learning institutions. Our main theme is peace and for us to achieve this objective then we must combat this vice of human trafficking so that the society is at peace, human trafficking is an injustice which denies a human being freedom to perform even the least that is expected of him and these chains must be broken. In Kenya we have membership in 16 institutions mainly in public universities. IMCS has undertaken the initiative of trying to create awareness and sensitize people about this vice, An integral part of our efforts  are also dedicated to creating platforms, where young people can make their voices heard, where they can promote innovative strategies and strengthen the roots of democracy in our communities.

Our youth network members have really spread their wings: some are working hard through our Culture of Peace Program to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking in schools, universities and community centers;

My Dear Friends, The fight against human trafficking will not be won tomorrow, but every bit of progress, every step in the right direction can help to save lives.

It is only when we begin to understand how human trafficking affects our lives – how it impedes on the health and well being of our societies, how it negates the progress we have made towards gender equality, and how it raises the levels of violence and insecurity in our neighborhoods – that we become more effective at fighting it.

It is when we start seeing the faces of victims behind the statistics, to listen to their stories and acknowledge their courage that we will make it a priority in our lives to make a difference.

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