The coronavirus has created more people vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers—and revealed the world’s unpreparedness to protect them. For anyone familiar with the mechanisms and methods that drive trafficking, it’s obvious why rates of exploitation spike during international crises. Whether it takes the form of recruiting, transporting, or harboring individuals through the use of force, coercion, or fraud (or all of the above), trafficking is predatory behavior, and people who are vulnerable—such as child brides or refugees—are invariably the ones most at risk. But in times of emergency—be it a flood, a drought, or a famine, a declaration of war or a recession—support structures shift and collapse. Communities that were once strong become suddenly weak as people grapple with losing their families, their homes, and their jobs. For traffickers around the world, each disaster signals a sudden availability of potential prey.
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