ISLAMABAD (Adeeb Kakar): A statement has been issued by the UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly on the occasion of Trafficking in Person day is being observed throughout the world in the end of July. She stated that more than 60 per cent of detected human trafficking victims over the last 15 years have been women and girls, most of them trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Ghada said that online and over messaging platforms is part of daily life for billions of people around the world, especially youth to connect with each other. Trafficking in persons is a crime that exploits vulnerability, desperation, and trust. Traffickers take advantage of social media and other online platforms to exploit victims.

‘The Internet has become a vital lifeline as the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted travel and kept us apart. But the advantages and potential of digital technologies to bring us together and better our lives are also being increasingly exploited by criminals’, she added.

UNODC Executive director also stated that the borderless nature of information and communications technologies enables traffickers to expand their reach and profits with even greater impunity. She added that countless more people are in danger of being exploited today, as conflicts and crises increase misery, and criminals target the desperate with false promises of opportunities, jobs, and a better life.

Ghada said to protect people, we need to protect digital spaces from criminal abuse. To do so, we must support countries to harness technologies for good. Adding that partnerships with tech companies and the private sector can keep traffickers from preying on the vulnerable and stop the circulation of online content that amplifies the suffering of trafficking victims.

She maintained that we can assist law enforcement authorities to use, with technical support and appropriate safeguards, artificial intelligence, data mining and other tools to detect and investigate trafficking networks.

Ghada urged we can do more to raise awareness and keep social spaces online safe through cooperation with civil society and all stakeholders.

On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, let us commit to preventing online exploitation and promoting the power of tech to better protect children, women and men, and support victims, she said.

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