Human trafficking is one of the biggest problems in the world, especially in undeveloped countries. It is estimated that 46 million people today live in some form of slavery around the world and through them human traffickers earn around $150 billion each year. According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) most victims of human trafficking in South East Asia were trafficked for sexual exploitation, followed by forced labour. Most victims in this region are women, with trafficking girls also being prominent.
Malaysia is not safe from human traffickers either, but the biggest Asian budget carrier AirAsia wants to help the fight against this global problem by training thousands of its staff to recognize human traffickers. As such, AirAsia will become the first carrier in Asia to crack down on human trafficking. In addition, neighboring countries such as Thailand, Laos and Myanmar are all listed by the US and are on its trafficking watch list for their inability to meet minimum required standards to fight this crime.
The airline said it will train between 5,000 and 10,000 of its staff members, including cabin crews.
This is very important as thousands of children and adults, who are later forced into labour, as domestic helpers or as sex workers, are transported by planes every year.
The initiative is spearheaded by the airline’s philanthropic arm AirAsia Foundation. Its Executive Director Yap Mun Ching said:
We like to be able to have our staff know what to do if somebody comes up to them and says 'I need help’. Sometimes (the victims) don't know they have been trafficked. They realize it only when they are on their way and they want to be able to get help. Most of the time they don't know who to turn to.
To help put a stop to human trafficking, AirAsia has partnered with a US-based group formed to train airline staff on trafficking Airline Ambassadors International in all of the airline’s main hubs Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila.
Unfortunately, training staff to spot traffickers is not as well spread in throughout the aviation industry as it should be.