Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence, has encouraged young people to play a greater role in the fight against human trafficking and let their voices be heard against the scourge .
Speaking at the end of a walk against human trafficking on Saturday, Minister Lawrence said “you have a greater role in the solution of many social problems, and therefore you must continue to broaden your physical and social networks so that we can impact more lives”.
She pointed out that while the event sought to build awareness about preventing Trafficking in Persons (TIP), young people everywhere are grappling with their own problems. She said, “Let’s extend our reach to them as well. We need to care more, talk to each other more and importantly, listen more”.
She noted that the best place to start this campaign is in the school system, where there is direct access to the young population. Teachers also have a significant role to play, the Minister added, “They have been influential in delivering the academic curriculum”.
“Students, you are extremely important to stopping human trafficking. Speak to your peers about the dangers and how they could say no. Look out for each other, to deter recruiters. I sit on the Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons and I can tell you of the high level of commitment to persecute persons charged with the offence of TIP; and the commitment to rehabilitate and reintegrate victims into society”, Minister Lawrence emphasised. It was explained that the Ministry is also working with non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to provide better services and facilities for TIP victims but much more work needs to be done.
Minister Lawrence cited that among the challenges faced is removing the hinterland population from the periphery of national development, “As you are aware, it is there that TIP mostly occurs. We have to change this. We need to educate more of our people, especially your peers to be suspicious of employment offers that seem too good to be true”.
Minister Lawrence said she was heartened by the response from young Guyanese who supported the awareness drive aimed at stopping the crime of human trafficking, “There is power in numbers, the presence of the young people at today’s event sends a strong message. “We will not condone exploitation and trafficking of persons. We are free beings who should not be coerced into sexual arrangements and exploited for the material gains of others. There is no price attached to humans. Let’s burn the price tag,” the Minister stressed. She added, “Together we can do this. Let’s spread the word, take action today. Stop human trafficking.”
The walk began at Queen’s College’s compound, proceeded south into Camp Street, West into Lamaha Street and North into Albert Street and ended at the National Park. The exercise was coordinated by the Ministry of Social Protection, in collaboration with Queens College students.