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Human traffickers on our doorstep?

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When St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) passed its Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act in September 2011, quickly followed in 2012 by the establishment of an Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit (ATIPU) within the police force, many Vincentians questioned the need for such interventions here.

The idea that human trafficking could take place here or that Vincentians could fall victim to such a peril seemed ludicrous in such a small society. However, as we grow in our understanding of what constitutes human trafficking, we are beginning to see the need for vigilance.

According to the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, in 2016, a Vincentian man, who travelled to Trinidad and Tobago to work as a security guard, was subjected to forced labour. The Government of SVG worked with the Trinidadian authorities in the investigation and assisted in bringing the man back home.

A few weeks ago, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit appealed through the media to young adults who recently completed their education and are now seeking employment to be very careful about what they post on social media and the kinds of jobs they accept; and also to be aware that not all jobs advertised are real.

They warned that victims of human trafficking are promised a better life and good jobs, but are often forced into dangerous, illegal, abusive and terrible working conditions.

Their appeal could not have been more timely, because just this week, advertisements began appearing on social media for “attractive female dancers and models” to apply for jobs in TV commercials, music videos, film, billboards etc, by sending a message via Whatsapp to a local mobile phone number. The advertisements said no experience was necessary and offered monthly salaries.

Such a job offer may seem like a gift from heaven to the many unemployed young women out there. But usually, when an offer seems too good to be true, it is. We urge our young people to heed the advice of the ATIPU and to solicit the involvement of a parent or other responsible older person before responding to any such advertisement.

Two Editions in One

We apologize to the readers, advertisers and vendors of the print version of our Midweek Searchlight for the unavailability of the newspaper last Tuesday, which was due to a breakdown at the printing press at Campden Park.

Subscribers to the electronic version of our newspaper were not affected, as by the time we realized the printery would not be able to print the Midweek newspaper, we had already released the e-paper to our subscribers around the world.

In an effort to make up to the readers of our printed version, today’s edition of SEARCHLIGHT is effectively the Midweek and Weekend newspapers combined. On pages 1A to 12A, we present a condensed version of the Midweek package of last Tuesday. The Midweek special also contains a ‘Back to School,’ feature with tips for parents, teachers and students on getting ready to return to school; but the puzzle, beauty, kitchen and sports sections, which are usually a part of the Midweek, have been omitted because of space limitations.

The condensed version of the Midweek newspaper will, however, not be distributed to our e-subscribers, they having already received the full version of that edition.

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