One of the grimmest, darkest aspects of the capitalist society we live in is the kidnapping and enslavement of people, especially women, who are exploited sexually. To end sex trafficking is an urgent task.
The scale of the problem is massive and worldwide. The statistics on sex trafficking are hard to gather, given the challenge of identifying criminal activity. A key study into modern slavery is that of the International Labor Organisation of 2017. They found that an estimated 4.8 million people were subject to forced sexual exploitation, a million of whom were children. Almost all of them (99%) were female.
There is a clear divide between rich and poor nations, with most victims coming from poorer countries. If we want to end sex trafficking, we have to end a system where large profits can be made from businesses that facilitate wealthy clients and where money means power over other people.
Although there is a clear connection between the pattern of sex trafficking and the imperialist legacy of the world’s history and present patterns of warfare (Ukrainian women and children fleeing the war are being preyed upon by sex traffickers) it is important to say that sex trafficking happens in every major city in the world. Ireland is no exception and in September 2022 the Irish government was criticised by the EU’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.
Victims of trafficking in human beings arrive in Ireland, with official figures – an underestimate – showing that while there was a drop during COVID, they are on the rise again. There were 103 people who came to the attention of the Garda in 2017, 64 in 2018, 42 in 2019, 38 in 2020, and 44 in 2021. Predominantly, these were victims of sexual exploitation. The GRETA report points out that there are a lack of interpreters with training in this area; that the Legal Aid Board services do not provide representation for victims in court; that no victim has received compensation in Ireland (whether from the perpetrators or the state); victims are treated as witnesses not as injured parties; and the number of investigations and prosecutions has been decreasing despite an increasing number of suspect cases.
End Sex Trafficking #WhereisCamila?
The example of Camila Cinalli is representative of tens of thousands of similar cases every year. Aged 15 and living in San Miguel del Monte, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 30 August 2015, Camila Cinalli had gone to meet a friend at the lakeside. When her friend couldn’t join her, she set off for home on the main road, National Route 3, where there is security camera footage of her. Soon after sending some texts, Camila’s phone was turned off and she has not been seen since.
The local authorities – the federal courts of La Plata – were slow to act and their investigation into Camila’s disappearance has failed to make any progress. It is the family who have striven the hardest to find Camila and the believe she was kidnapped and trafficked for sexual exploitation. Over the years the family have organised, campaigned and followed a trail of clues across different cities. Camila’s mother, María José Herrera, is a member of the revolutionary socialist group La Marx, who have an international campaign to find out what happened to Camila as well as a broader women-led campaign for to end sex trafficking.
María José Herrera, mother of Camila and activist against sex trafficking spoke to Independent Left:
How big a problem is sex trafficking?
It is one of the most serious problems today. We are thousands of families around the world, especially in poor countries like Argentina, Latin America, Africa, Asia, etc who suffer the kidnapping of our daughters, friends, relations, affections. The traffickers are protected by authorities of the capitalist state: government, police, mayors, governors, and the church. Everyone takes part of the business of human trafficking. The traffickers need landing strips, open borders, enabled routes, and this is only possible with the close complicity between those in the business of trafficking and the government and security forces.
It’s 21st century slavery. It is a business that moves millions of dollars. Those who control that business are the same ones who control drug trafficking, gambling, arms trafficking, and all the dirty business of capitalism. The money is whitewashed on Wall Street and among the Corporations and tax havens of the world. That is to say, the trafficking business is closely linked to capitalism and the social class of the richest 1% that dominates the world.
Do you think it is possible to end sex trafficking?
It is possible by uniting families and victims with activists from around the world willing to confront sexism, trafficking, and defend the rights of women, and also the male victims of this criminal activity. At the same time, those of us who organize ourselves must make progress in understanding the magnitude of the problem we face. This is only possible with revolutionary organizations, willing to confront the capitalists of human trafficking, and sexual exploitation, but also all the accomplices, which is the capitalist state. There are many platforms that claim to fight against trafficking, but they are controlled by the UN, or governments, and capitalist parties. These organizations lead the fight into a dead end, because ultimately they defend capitalism. That is why we organized the International Platform against Femicides and Disappearances, an organization completely independent of all the governments and capitalist parties of the world, that independence is essential for our fight to go to the end and achieve results.
When your daughter or friend disappears, you don’t know what to do. You are disoriented, nobody is prepared to face a situation like this. You go out looking everywhere; your life as you knew it disappears in an instant. You approach the police, the authorities, the media; everyone pretends to help you, maybe some really do, but you quickly run into a network of impunity, the witnesses remain silent or disappear, nobody knows anything, the security cameras they disappear, it is as if the earth had swallowed them and that person had never existed. The thousands of families that suffer from this problem face this hard reality that changes our lives forever.
The platform also gives emotional and legal support, provides advice for those people who receive this blow in their lives, and do not know how to react. It is not a self-help group, it is an organization for the fight, but the brotherhood, and mutual solidarity helps enormously to face the pain of the loss of our loved ones, whether dead or missing.
What is the next step for the #WhereisCamila campaign?
We are promoting new acts, and new actions that keep Camila’s presence alive, and spread knowledge of the case in ever larger countries. Camila may be in Europe today, or in the United States, kidnapped by traffickers, but anyone from those regions can provide us with useful information to help us find her.
Several organizations now provide us with technological resources, photos of Camila updated with the age she is today, as soon as we have this material it will be published on social networks, and we will be able to move forward with the Campaign. If European organizations like Independent Left or others, councillors like comrade John Lyons help us reach a person from Europe, the more people know about Camila, and our campaign, the greater the chances of finding her and rescuing her from her kidnappers.
How can our readers help your campaign?
First, promote the campaign. Put the hashtag #WhereisCamila? on social networks, place their photo, make it visible by all possible means, let’s talk about them at acts, media, social networks, events, etc. Second, join the campaign. Send us your video, your photo, your message, in all languages to the Platform, or to those who help us like Independent Left. Become an activist, organize with us no matter your language, sex, age, nationality, race, we are only interested in finding it. Fighting for Camila we fight for all the disappeared, and victims of Human Trafficking, we face this dirty and dangerous business that devastates the entire world. Third, help us strengthen the International Platform against Femicides and Disappearances, help poor women around the world who are uniting to confront this scourge, and who need your help to achieve their goals.
You can use the Independent Left contact details to get in touch about the campaign.