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Jul 9, 2012

Protecting girls vulnerable to predators

Trafficking in persons is considered a crime that often goes under the radar, but its presence in Belize has not been overlooked. Earlier this year, the country’s first human trafficking convictions were recorded when two Cayo women were found guilty in separate cases for recruiting teenage girls to become prostitutes. The Anti-trafficking in Persons (ATIPS) Committee in Belize has been leading awareness efforts with support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Today, a campaign was started that specifically targets young people, who are vulnerable to predators with false promises. News Five’s Delahnie Bain was in Belmopan for the launch of the initiative.

 

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has collaborated with the local Anti-Trafficking In Persons (ATIPS) Committee to launch an educational media campaign. Over the next three months, the campaign will reach out to adolescents and young adults via radio, television and especially the internet.

 

Carolina Urcuyo

Carolina Urcuyo, Communications Specialist, IOM

“The aim is to raise awareness on Human trafficking in Belize; human trafficking exists everywhere and it exists in Belize as well.”

 

Delahnie Bain

“So what are the mediums that you are using to get this message across?”

 

Carolina Urcuyo

“We’re using—first of all, social media such as Facebook and Twitter, we have digital banners on frequently visited web pages in Belize, we have posters, brochures, flip cards and we have a human trafficking film festival that is called Un-chosen.”

 

Diana Shaw

Diana Shaw, Project Coordinator, ATIPS Project

“First, people will know what is a trafficking in persons situation; second, they will know where to report; third, they will know how to protect themselves from becoming a potential victim of trafficking in persons. Those are the three messages that will go forward from this campaign.”

 

The theme of the promotion is “It Can Happen To You” and as the name implies, its message is that everyone is a potential victim of human trafficking. Ministry of Human Development C.E.O., Judith Alpuche says that’s something that many young persons are oblivious to.

 

Judith Alpuche, C.E.O., Ministry of Human Development

Judith Alpuche

“Adolescents, sometimes they say, suffer from the three I’s: They’re Irresistible, they’re Invincible and they’re Intelligent like nobody else and although that is absolutely true, there is a degree of vulnerability also that comes. So to really sensitize young people to understand that not just because you’re not being brought across the borders or not just because you are a Belizean with all your paperwork in tact or not just because you’re going to school; that doesn’t mean that you are not vulnerable or that it could not happen to you.”

 

Carolina Urcuyo

“The theme and the slogan of the campaign, it’s called it could happen to you; It Could Happen to You Campaign and we’re using this slogan to say that human trafficking can happen to anyone, that all of us are vulnerable to human trafficking because traffickers use different threats and different promises such as the opportunity of your dreams and excellent job offers; work offers that seem too good to be true. And these offers that seem too good to be true are not real. They often have slavery or deception behind them.”

 

Alpuche also believes that the initiative is timely because there are indicators that human trafficking is on the rise in Belize.

 

Judith Alpuche

“I’m very, very cognizant of the fact that more and more we are seeing the evidence of internal trafficking in Belize, even more so maybe than having people being trafficked across our borders. We’re seeing the internal trafficking, we’re seeing girls being brought from Corozal into San Pedro or girls being brought from other places into Cayo or wherever, the tourism; it has areas where people think that they can really get away with these kinds of atrocities.”

 

Diana Shaw

“Just want to encourage the young people especially; remember don’t trust all the promises. If something sounds too go to be true, it probably is; be aware of the potential situations, listen to these campaigns, you will hear the jingles on the radios. They are going to be informing you about what to look for, they are going to be reminding you about the numbers to make a report it’s the Crimestoppers number 0-800-922-TIPS. If you see something that is suspicious, don’t try to investigate it to found out if it is trafficking. Make a report, the authorities are there, they have already been trained in what to do. Make a report and we are going to make sure that country does not become a place where people feel like they can come and traffic people.”

 

And according to Diana Shaw, the ATIPs Project Coordinator, they have made significant progress in anti-trafficking awareness with IOM’s help.

 

Diana Shaw

“We are very excited about the work that we have already done under the project. We have already done twenty-seven workshops that have included workshops for the police, police recruits, labor, immigration, customs, health, social workers, magistrates, judges. We have done sensitization with over five thousand young people; youths across the different districts of Belize and we have some upcoming workshops with tourism and we will be doing three thousand teachers throughout the country in August and then some train the trainer activities to official hand over and close the project so that ATIPS can continue with the training.”

 

Delahnie Bain for News Five.

 

The campaign will also feature radio and television ads in various languages.

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1 Response for “Protecting girls vulnerable to predators”

  1. Storm says:

    I strongly support efforts to stop human trafficking and sweep the Earth clean of traffickers. It is a vile practice, the worst form of slavery, and it destroys lives of the victims — emotionally, and sometimes literally if they contract AIDS or other deadly diseases.

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