Few understand full impact and extent of human trafficking: Survey

Would-be migrants disembark a Libyan Navy boat in Tripoli on Sept 29. The North African country has turned into a major hub for human traffickers.
Would-be migrants disembark a Libyan Navy boat in Tripoli on Sept 29. The North African country has turned into a major hub for human traffickers. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Half of all respondents to a survey could accurately identify potential victims of human trafficking while three in four knew the correct definition of the crime, according to a pilot study conducted earlier in November.

But the study, conducted by International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and Microsoft, also found that most respondents underestimated the gravity of the issue which claims 20.9 million victims globally.

The average person guessed that only 11 million people are trafficked.

The findings showed that respondents had "a broad understanding of human trafficking and exploitation in Singapore", said IOM's programme leader Tara Dermott, who is based in Bangkok.

Still, more needed to be done to raise awareness of the growing issue, she added.

The study was based on a poll of 100 people in areas such as Lucky Plaza, Plaza Singapura and the Singapore Management University (SMU) on Nov 19. It was conducted by seven undergraduates from SMU and the National University of Singapore.

Ms Deepika Daswani, who conducted the poll, said the short test was "a good way of explaining human trafficking and exploitation" to respondents.

"It gave us a platform to clarify any doubts the respondents had about the topic," added the 22-year-old SMU undergraduate.

Last month, Singapore acceded to international standards of prosecuting and convicting human traffickers under the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.