There are an estimated 37,000 people living in modern slavery in Japan (GSI 2018). The country is the destination for men, women and children trafficked for forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of trafficking victims are foreign women who migrate willingly seeking work but find themselves trapped in debt bondage, having to work in domestic and sex work to pay off fees incurred. Despite warning from the U.N., it is reported that human trafficking is on the rise in Japan. Marcela Loaiza was 21 years old when she was lured from Colombia, trapped in a sex trafficking ring, and forced by Japan’s Yakuza mafia to sell sex on the streets of Tokyo. After 18 months of sexual exploitation, she escaped, so ill that her hair and teeth were falling out. Today Loaiza, 35, runs a non-governmental organisation that bears her name to raise awareness about human trafficking among girls, women and men in Colombia and the United States, where she now lives. Loaiza spoke with Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone from the Colombian city of Cali and recalled how she escaped forced prostitution and the mafia, and how she moved past the pain and guilt and healed.
It is estimated that 290,200 people are living in modern slavery in Japan. The country is the destination for men, women and children trafficked for forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of trafficking victims are foreign women who migrate willingly seeking work, but find themselves trapped in debt bondage, having to work in domestic and sex work to pay off fees incurred. Despite warning from the U.N., it is reported that human trafficking is on the rise in Japan. Marcela couldn’t afford to pay her daughter's hospital bills when she rang an agent who had recently offered her a job as a professional dancer abroad. The agent paid off the hospital bills and arranged for Marcela to travel to Tokyo. However, upon arrival Marcela was told that she would have to work providing sexual services to men in order to pay off the debt incurred from her travel costs. After 18 months, Marcela was assisted by one of her clients and was able to escape, making her way to the Colombian embassy in Japan and eventually back home to her daughter.
Dia was forced to join a guerilla group in Columbia for nine months at the age of 15, one of hundreds of thousands of children who participate in armies and armed groups in more than 30 countries around the world. The problem is most critical in Africa, where up to 100,000 children are estimated to be involved in armed conflict. Child soldiers also exist in Afghanistan, Burma, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, though international law sets 18 as the minimum age for all participation in hostilities. Both sides engaged in Columbia’s 40-year-old conflict have used children: the government-backed paramilitary Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, and the left-wing guerrilla groups Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and Ejército de Liberación Nacional. Total estimates of the numbers of children fighting in paramilitaries and urban militias range from between 11,000 and 14,000. FARC has the largest number of minors, including several thousand under the age of 15. Women and girls constitute up to half of all recruits to the armed opposition groups and face pressure to enter relationships with male commanders. Children take part in combat, act as messengers, and lay explosives. Most are denied contact with their families.