CAIRO: The Shoura Council, Egypt’s Upper House of Parliament, approved an anti-human trafficking law in principle, Shoura Council Speaker Safwat El-Sherif said.
The MPs have approved the law in principle in order to curb the growing phenomenon of human trafficking in Egypt, El-Sherif told news reports.
“Human trafficking has become the third most profitable illegal business after weapons and drug dealing, he said Sunday.
El-Sherif continued explaining that the World Trade Organization (WTO) says that there are more than half a million women that are being exploited and forced into prostitution, in addition to one million boys and girls under the age of 18 who are also forced to engage in the same activity.
Statistics indicate that the $32 billion industry accounts for the loss of 2.4 million people every year.
“Human trafficking is one of the most dangerous forms of trading, as it buys and sells humans so it’s a crime in all ways, said Shawki El-Sayed, head of the legislation committee at the Shoura Council.
“It’s modern day slavery and in my opinion we have been late in passing this law that criminalizes a trade in which vulnerable groups of women and children are highly exploited, he added.
El-Sayed explained that they are currently in the process of drafting the law and reviewing the penal code and international agreements which Egypt has signed to combat human trafficking.
In a celebration of the International Women’s Day this week, Minister of State for Family and Population, Moshira Khattab, recognized how previously taboo subjects such as human and child trafficking are now being discussed openly in the media, which is paving the way for reform.
However, according to the Arab Network for Human Rights Information community activist Sabah Khalil Eid was detained on Jan. 28 for talking about human trafficking on a local television show. She criticized the trend of marrying off female minors to rich old men from the Gulf, and mentioned the case of a 13-year-old child whose parents forced her into marriage. Eid was released four days later after ANHRI intervened.
Human trafficking in Egypt includes child labor, the sexual exploitation of children, the sale of human organs as well as various forms of prostitution. The issue has become of major concern for social scientists, police and law-enforcement authorities as well as rehabilitation centers.
Several measures have been introduced to fight off phenomena related to human trafficking. The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, for instance, started a hotline (16000) to provide round-the-clock assistance to children and women in distress. The National Coordinating Committee to Combat and Prevent Trafficking in Persons has also been set up and is charged with the implementation of related laws and the follow-up on reported cases.
In 2008, Egypt’s First Lady Suzanne Mubarak vowed to support the war against that type of modern slavery during her participation in the Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking.