Hope for Justice works with US State Department to prevent trafficking in Middle East

Hundreds of people will benefit from specialist training facilitated by Hope for Justice in partnership with the United States Department of State.

Hope for Justice’s team in the US has partnered with the State Department, which publishes the invaluable global Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report every year, to develop and deliver a training platform that will help communities to identify and combat the issue of human trafficking.

The first wave of training is designed to equip and prepare people to identify victims of modern slavery within the Middle Eastern region.

While some countries in the Middle East recognize some forms of trafficking, many of the legal systems within these countries do not yet specifically criminalize all forms of trafficking nor provide protection or assistance to victims of trafficking.

Hope for Justice’s lead US investigator, Richard Schoeberl, said: “We are proud to be working with the US Department of State to provide this training at US embassies abroad. This training focuses on human trafficking identification within specific sectors, so far including social workers and clergy, healthcare clinicians and security personnel. We are also recording and translating the training to make it accessible to all those served by the Department of State.

“Modern slavery is a growing problem in the Middle East, especially as it combines with the impact of conflict and the rising numbers of refugee streams trying to reach Europe.

“Countries of the Middle East are considered countries of destination, origin, and transit for trafficking for the purposes of prostitution, other forms of sexual exploitation, and forced labor, especially domestic servitude.”

In Iraq, which is categorized as a Tier 2 nation by the TIP Report, forced prostitution within a type of Islamic marriage – a “zawaj al-multaa” or “pleasure marriage” – is prevalent. Iraq is also a source and destination country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and also to men, women and children subjected to forced labor. The ongoing violent conflict within the region continues to gravely increase the population’s vulnerability to trafficking, in particular women and children.

Richard said: “By providing training, raising awareness and equipping people, we are playing a vital role in ending exploitation and creating communities that are hostile to human trafficking.”

Hope for Justice will be working alongside the State Department on a number of training programs to serve other regions of the world in the future, to improve the response to modern slavery.

In the last financial year, Hope for Justice trained 21,910 people to spot the signs of modern slavery and to respond effectively.