Lien Hoang, reporting on Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam for the International Herald Tribune, discusses the recent efforts to stop human trafficking, most specifically child labor. The Blue Dragon Children's Foundation is a nongovernmental activists group that poses undercover and enters sweatshops in attempts to rescue trafficked children. Following their lead, the police forces have begun to get involved. Police involvement is a new advance in Vietnam. Once they discovered that while the children were indeed being paid they were often too young and working in terrible conditions, they became more active. However, the fines and penalties given to factory owners that have illegal child labor and trafficked children are little to nothing in many cases. According to Hoang, fines can be a little as $250 and often the factories simply relocate. While that is discouraging, a progressive step forwards is the mention of a new law that clarifies that trafficking is not only across borders but also within states and cities. This opens doors for training across police fields, which will increase efforts to end human trafficking.
I find this article extremely interesting because it starts by telling us that the police had very limited involvement in the past but are increasingly more involved as time goes on. While it excites me that law enforcement is taking a more active role, it is extremely disappointing to hear that the consequences are so small and have little impact. If any progress is to be made, affirmative action must be taken as soon as people are found guilty of trafficking and illegal child labor. Another encouraging fact is the introduction of a law clarifying that trafficking happens not only across borders but also from city to city and village to village. This encourages local law enforcement and other agencies to be more aware of the issue. Clearly human trafficking is a huge issue within our global society, and something must be done about it. Hoang makes an excellent point in her closing sentence: "But if the country is ready to give the death sentence to drug dealers or arrest traders in rhinoceros horn, it shouldn’t just give a slap on the wrist to those who employ children, especially children who have been trafficked." I completely agree with her logic.
October 2, 2013