Mrs. Hughes: Members of this Hon. House, trafficking in persons is slavery in the 21st century. As we know it affects the most vulnerable in any society, the weak, the poor, the jobless. Regrettably, as we have all agreed and said this evening in more cases than others we are talking about women and children. Today, none of us can deny the perceived increase in incidences in Guyana that we appear to be facing. We read it in newspapers now often, and definitely more and more cases are coming to light in our society. Given all of this we fell that we all must support this motion and the commission of enquiry if we are true to our word of wanting to do more for the most vulnerable in our society. We acknowledge that the Ministry and the Government has a comprehensive programme in place. The Minister went into great detail to outline that for us, and we are happy she shared that with us. It is important that nongovernmental organisations like the Women Miners Association and others are working together and stepping up to the challenge. We commend them all. But what we are saying is that given what appears to be an increase in prevalence more must be done. This evening we talked about the legislation that is in place, and we know there is adequate legislation for domestic violence but the reality is we are seeing also an increase in domestic violence. A few weeks ago we signed onto a motion about interpersonal violence and, again, we had to do that because there is an increase. Members of this House, we have to deal with the realities we see facing us in Guyana.
Trafficking in persons has a clear social dimension. We cannot fail to recognise that poverty makes many vulnerable, and with joblessness trafficking in person becomes avenue for recruitment especially of the young. What are the realities this forces on our nation or on any nation? The serious offshoots of trafficking are increases in sexually transmitted diseases, and an increase in sex tourism. In Guyana today more and more men and women locally and those, if we are honest, being brought from some of our borders and bordering towns, are being lured and forced into slavery and prostitution.
Today we seek not to lay blame but rather we hope for consensus on this increase. The increased publicity and the increases of incidences are proof that what we are currently doing is not enough. We must do more and we must do better. Let us not just accept our current approaches as the only solutions.
A commission of enquiry we feel will put all our heads together. We have heard about the increased need for more research in this area – the social workers, the families, the doctors. We will all examine the whys and the how of this recent increase. It will bring increased focus to the issue, comprehensively identify all the approaches that must be implemented to effectively deal with this new approach. We recognise that our hinterland and mining communities are currently the most recent nest of this scourge. And we fear also the international dimensions of trafficking in persons that we in Guyana are seeing in the recent publications of Guyanese being trafficked in Barbados. This, as we said, affects largely women, and there is a growing talk of rings all over Guyana. Now is the time to act. We in the AFC therefore support this motion just because it will add increased focus to this issue. We hope we all can sign on to this.
Thank you. [Applause]