Vietnam is one of the fastest developing and urbanising economies in Southeast Asia. Although incomes are increasing among the middle class and the poor, urban poverty is still rising among locals, creating an underserved population in which women and children have become the most subjected to human trafficking and modern slavery.
According to the Ministry of Public Security, the country has identified more than 3,500 victims since 2013, most of whom are women, children and people from ethnic minority communities. Some are trafficked internationally, including to China: 80% of those trafficked to China are women and children. These stats might be non representational though, as recent research reveals that labor and sex trafficking data appearing in the FBI’s national Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program may significantly understate the extent of human trafficking crimes. So these numbers could be much bigger.
What is human trafficking?
It involves exploiting people for sex or to make them work, using force, threats, manipulation or deceit and it is also known as modern day slavery.
In Vietnam, girls and women are commonly trafficked to China and Myanmar where they are sold into the commercial sex trade or are forced to become brides; while young boys and girls who are homeless in the city streets are targeted by pimps and paedophiles to be abused and traded. In many cases, people who have been trafficked are unable to call for help, or believe that they will be punished with threats and physical violence if they do.
Thankfully there are some local organisations that conduct skills and livelihood training to women and children who are survivors of human trafficking and help them get back on their feet, as well as some organisations that work to identify trigger points of trafficking and address theses issues of poverty.
The Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation is a non-governmental organisation based in Hanoi. Their mission is to help women and children escape from crisis by offering a range of services including rescue from sex trafficking, forced labour, and modern slavery and the providing of shelter, education and employment. This non-profit organisation aims at rescuing people from slavery and caring for them as they recover while putting traffickers behind bars and representing their victims in court through legal advocacy.
Although human trafficking might not seem to be an issue close to home for many of us, it is closer than we think. For example, there is tangible evidence of modern day slavery in plain sight, such as with trainees paid close to nothing working at nail salons, as well as a cases where Women from across eastern Europe and West Africa are lured to the UK with the dream of a better life, only to be sexually exploited by the same people and sometimes ‘friends’ who lured them. Wherever we are, we should take the time to learn about trafficking and how we can fight this issue. A couple of ways to do this are: choosing to buy from brands that make the effort to eliminate slavery in their supply chains and donating to organisations that help tackle this issue in poorer countries.
As a Fashion brand, we’re very aware of how human trafficking can be directly linked to fast fashion and the exploitation of garment workers, which is why we also work with certified UK and EU factories to produce our products. So we can make sure there’s no trafficking or exploitation with the people who make our clothes.
On top of that, we’ve recently partnered with Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation to help you tackle trafficking whilst making a conscious purchase from us. By purchasing our ‘Liberté’ collection, you will be supporting the fight against sex trafficking: for every purchase, a £1.00 donation will go to the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation to help rescue street kids, kids with disabilities and rescue kids from slavery and human trafficking in Vietnam.
The Liberté collection
Shop the Liberté T-shirts here and make your donation now
Shop the Liberté Hoodies here and make your donation now
Cherchez La Femme team X
Info sourced on bluedragon.org, savethechildren.org, bbc.co.uk, nij.ojp.gov and freetheslaves.net
All imagery sourced on canva.com