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Cyprus people trafficking outrage

By Janice Ruffle

Human trafficking is one of the most tragic human rights issues of our time. It robs human beings of their freedom and dignity.

It’s a form of “slave-trade” that promotes forced labour resulting in exploitation, especially sexually and financially.

It can be said the cause is mainly due to lack of employment and cheap labour.

Victims are controlled through threats, violence and deception. And mainly women victims are open to coercion from traffickers not to testify.

The Trafficking in Person Report (TIP) is a US report on global trafficking that gives different nations a “level”. This depends on how they are working to tackle the situation, highlighting sexual exploitation, labour, marriage, including organ trafficking. Taken into consideration are 3 areas: prosecution, protection and prevention.

Last year Cyprus went down a level. A recommendation of improvement was to provide more training to create HT professionals.

Nicola Smith (photo), President of FDi – Freedom Dolls – an initiative that provides training, as well as helps and offers rehabilitation to victims, recently lashed out at the government.

“I have a homeless victim at the moment and the government are not finding her accommodation, when legally they should, I feel my anger may have overflowed,” said Smith.

Generally, she strongly believes the main issue is lack of awareness.

“Cypriots are being trafficked; it is not just foreign men, women and children. Islandwide campaigns need to be run in multiple languages,” she stressed.

It’s a fact that awareness of human trafficking is taught in many schools, except Cyprus.

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So what’s the solution? Cyprus needs to get its infrastructure in place. For example, children are being sexually-trafficked, including Cypriot children, yet there is not a dedicated children’s safe house offering 24-hour care by trained people in the field of child sexual abuse.

“I know of children sold to the Cypriot mafia for sexual abuse,” claimed Smith.

Yet Cyprus only prosecuted one man for trafficking last year. He received a one-year prison sentence reduced to three years probation.

That is not good enough. Until the Cyprus government realise that human trafficking is a major issue that is affecting its own children, then nothing will get done.

Perhaps this crime is taking place in your own circle.

Police are urging anyone who might suspect that a person may be a victim of human trafficking to report it immediately. This can also be done anonymously.

To report a case call: 22 808063 or 1460.

You can contact Nicola Smith, FDi, on 96 354632 or email: nicola@freedom-dolls.com. She welcomes any assistance to go forward with her initiative.

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