Living in or near an international border town greatly increases the likelihood of a person becoming a victim of modern day slavery, for a variety of reasons:
- Border towns tend to be a conglomerate of races, cultures, and values. The marginalized and outcast gravitate to these subcultures when home is not a welcome place. In some cases, such as the border of Myanmar and Thailand, many people living near the border do not have citizenship in either country, denying them access to certain jobs and social services.
- Border towns tend to have higher rates of poverty.
- Border towns tend to be isolated from other communities and have higher rates of violence and crime. These factors make it is easy for recruiters to lure people into traveling with them for jobs or an education in faraway places. The hope that there is something better than the current living situation is hard to pass up. For example, the Mexican border town of Tijuana has a serious trafficking problem.
"We know there are specific streets where at this very hour (noon) 12- and 13-year old children are being exhibited like commodities, as objects, being sold on Coahuila street (in the downtown area)," says Federal PAN deputy Rosi Orozco, a member of the Special Commission for the prevention of human trafficking. Children in this border town are trafficked both internationally (to the US) and domestically. According to UNICEF, over one thousand children are sexually exploited annually in Tijuana.
- Since border towns are stop-over towns, much like tourist towns, it is also easier to exploit others undetected. Non-locals do not care about the town or its community welfare. There are not regulars to establishments that create relationships with the servers, technicians, or girls. There is no one to notice or care about a man, woman, or child who is being taken advantage of.
- The distance, cost of transit, and risk of getting caught will be lessened by trafficking victims directly from border towns, if the trafficking is between two contiguous countries such as India and Nepal.
- Border guards have often been involved in corruption, taking bribes to allow traffickers and their victims to cross without intervening.
The dynamic of border towns needs to change. Made By Survivors, working with rescue and shelter organizations, is establishing safety nets near the border of India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh for potential victims and for survivors of modern day slavery. India shares a one thousand mile border with Nepal, across which 15-20 Nepali girls are trafficked every single day.
By providing safe housing (shelter care), employment, education, vocational training and an understanding of human rights, Made By Survivors provides the citizens in border towns and those brought in to be exploited the tools to remain free forever from the bondage of slavery. This fall we will be launching a campaign to raise awareness and funds for projects in border areas. Join our mailing list for updates on this work.