By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A large installation intended to raise awareness to situations of human trafficking is on display in the middle of Barra da Tijuca’s BRT (Rapid Bus Transit) Alvorada Terminal, in Zona Oeste (West Zone) of Rio de Janeiro.
The exhibit portrays images and reports of victims of sexual exploitation, slave labor, domestic servitude, illegal adoption of children and organ trafficking.
The goal of the exhibition, called GIFTBox, is to educate and mobilize society against the trafficking in people, representing the sensation of being seduced by a good proposal, such as a gift, and then being deceived by a criminal situation.
The GIFTBox project was launched in 2013 by the English NGO Stop the Traffik, and in Rio de Janeiro, it has already passed Rio Galeão Airport, Central do Brasil, Teleférico of Complexo do Alemão and Cinelândia.
The box will be displayed in Terminal Alvorada until Friday (June 28th) and is part of the Mobilização Coração Azu (Blue Heart Mobilization Week), an international campaign to remember the International Day to Combat Human Trafficking, celebrated on July 30th.
The Public Policy Advisor of the Secretariat of State for Human and Political Rights for Women and the Elderly (SEDHMI), Sávia Cordeiro, explains that the crime of human trafficking is underreported, so it is important to raise awareness among the population.
“There is a large portion [of the population] who thinks that trafficking does not exist, which they think exists in another country, but not in Rio de Janeiro. We realize that there is an increase in complaints soon after we start doing the actions to raise awareness of trafficking,” said Sávia Cordeiro.
According to her, Rio de Janeiro has a different profile from the other states, with more cases of trafficking in persons for slave labor. “It has two profiles, one of internal trafficking, usually the victim is a migrant from the Northeast, and has the international traffic of foreign migrants found in situations of slave labor, such as the Chinese.”
Labor prosecutor Juliane Mombelli said the human trafficking situation usually involves a promise of work that ends in a situation analogous to slavery.
“We verify that people seek to change their country, their place of residence, in search of better living conditions. And the best living conditions come with work, so there’s a direct link between trafficking in people and slave labor,” explains Mombelli.
She points out that cause visibility actions, such as GIFTBox, help increase reporting. “We identify that in the two, three weeks after the release of the box, the number of complaints increases significantly, because people perceive, think about it, and remember to report, relate to some case they know.”