Intending to create awareness among local and international communities on human trafficking in a context where slavery is defined as the systematic abuse of others for personal or economic benefit was the theme of a recent webinar. This was conducted by the Rotaract Club of NIBM (RID 3220) on May 15, 2021.
Extending it to an international audience, the session was conducted in collaboration with the international Rotaract Club of Madhyapur Nepal (RID 3292) with the support of “The Roads to Right organisation” as the resource partner. The session was streamed via Zoom and on Facebook through the official club page and was moderated by lawyer Aritha Wickramasinghe. The webinar was addressed by three professional dignitaries namely Bill Woolf -Director of Human Trafficking programmes U.S Department of Justice Washington DC, Kezban Yagci Sokat- Assistant Professor of Business Analytics, Lucas College, Graduate School of Business San Jose State University and John Kapitzke - Homeland Security Investigations. There were many participants from all around the world and many fellow Rotaractors from the community.
When one of the participants questioned the speakers how children, women and men were being slaved around the world and in every community, Mr.Woolf said, “From the outside, it may appear to be a normal job. However, people are being controlled - they may face violence or threats, be forced into insurmountable debt, or have their passport revoked and are facing deportation. Many people have fallen into this oppressive trap simply because they were attempting to escape poverty or insecurity, improve their lives, and provide for their families. They are now unable to leave.”
Mr. Bill Woolf said “The reality is if we only focus on the after-effects, if we only focus on being reactive to Human Trafficking, we will never bring an end to this.” Which was an insightful yet something to think of. He said we need to take action against human slavery and provide help in hand to our society while identifying victims. Ms. Sokat said, “Trying to work on before, rather than after by educating, can prevent potential targets from becoming victims and become a solution to the problem.”
The NIBM Rotaract club President Rtr. Ravindu Welgama said, “In 1865 the world officially abolished slavery, ensuring freedom to all humans regardless of their skin colour, ethnicity or race. But after all these years, does everyone feel the same level of freedom in their lives? Unfortunately, no. Thus, the Rotaract Club of NIBM initiated this project to spread awareness to the communities worldwide, which at this moment the least we could do. Even in Sri Lanka, there is a huge portion of people who are mistreated. Human trafficking can be varied from procuring labour or child labour to the commercial sex act. As Rotaractor’s, we may not be able to extinct human trafficking worldwide, yet we can help to start from somewhere. And I am proud and honoured to say we helped to initiate that.”
Extending a word of gratitude, club’s project chair Rtr.Natie Hettiarachchi thanked the organising committee which comprised Rtr. Ravindu Welgama, Rtr. Dulana Nirovin, Rtr. Vishal Selvaraja, executive committee and board of Directors.
Rtr. Nathalie Hettiarachchi
Rotaract Club of NIBM