On trafficking and neutered institutions

Conference on combating trafficking.

Starts with the official speeches from authorities, OSCE and the UN. All the coin words were there – synergy, multi-stakeholder approach, multi-disciplinary approach, effectiveness, sustainability, measuring impact, cooperation, determination to tackle the issue, important achievements, positive practices. Any other empty but fashionable word you can imagine was probably there. Orwell would have probably felt so amazed that would have rewritten his essay “Politics and the English Language”. Being dead probably he spins relentlessly in his grave.

The proposed solutions were:

  1. more institutions involved –my translations bigger budgets and more well paid jobs for the intergovernmental institutions
  2.  more awareness –my translation – more conferences in great hotels and great per-diems, more money wasted on all kind of irrelevant posters and clips that are watched by almost nobody, more round-tables where we listen things that we know make no sense but we have to hear them politely as they come from high level people that control significant amounts of money which at the end determine the survival of our NGOs.
  3. inter-ministerial groups dealing with the issues  and exchanges of good practices– my translation more jobs for political cronies that have no idea about the issues that will travel on great per-diems to different luxurious locations , more money wasted by already extremely inefficient bureaucracies

The official speeches were followed by a request for debate. Nobody. I felt compelled to help.

I asked what are the incentives they propose as an alternative for those to be trafficked (women living in abject poverty and with abysmal educational background, children from disintegrated families, drug addicted teenagers and desperate poor male youth) .

I said that while I think is important to have all the high level speeches, the great posters, the amazingly well done and expensive internet based awareness campaigns and the great reports and secondary researches I was more interested to know how they plan to stimulate the work where it really matters – at the grassroots – in the shanty towns, in the ghettoes, in the rural and very poor communities.

I explained that girls from the ghettoes I know that go into prostitution have a major economical incentives to do it and there the enthusiasm for posters and internet campaigns and righteous movies is not that great. That the exceptional success of one girl out of tens that ends up back in the neighborhood with enough money to open an erotic massage business is what it matters and the stories of those that never come back or end up in prison, addicted or dead are simply ignored. That work at the grassroots tackling trafficking is really dangerous and many expect to be done voluntarily or on crappy salaries.

I did not get any answers. Just some irrelevant polite blabla. In the break around 20 people came to tell me how much they appreciated my intervention.  Two said that finally there is somebody with enough balls to say it. I told them that I would have preferred to hear their opinion about the combating trafficking during the plenary and I am not really keen on discussing my private matters with strangers. My sarcasm was not appreciated.

Then, I pondered why there are so many people that seem to like the some very few people with guts at the conferences but never dare to say anything themselves. And I also realized that I see less and less people with guts and more and more experts on lip-service or keeping quiet and complaining in the breaks at the few conferences I go.

Now my question is how should we fight institutional castration? Do we need some conferences about this ? Should we try to convince intergovernmental institutions that investment in treatments against cowardice disguised as diplomacy is needed for their own employees ?

Solving this issue might lead to some very good and much needed reforms. It could also lead to a minimum pragmatism when people talk about trafficking. The criminal networks make huge amounts of money out of their “business”. They have the means and the incentives to corrupt policemen and politicians. To stop traffickers you need comparable huge amounts of money to go towards preventing it , tough legislation and lots of work at the grassroots. Disrupting trafficking networks will mean exposing also corruption at very high level. For all of it we need many people with serious balls and some serious protection.

For now all that it is available seem to be great speeches. Simply not enough.

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