UNODC Trains Female Law Enforcement Officers to Address Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) 2018 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons highlights that human trafficking disproportionately affects women and girls, with sexual exploitation being the most prevalent form of this crime. At the same time, women continue to be underrepresented in institutions responding to both trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.

To tackle the heavily gendered nature of these worrying trends, UNODC –under the EU-funded Global Action to Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT – Asia and the Middle East)– is providing specialist training to female law enforcement officers throughout all its partner countries. With the generous support of the European Union, from 2 to 6 November UNODC trained 25 female officers in special investigation techniques for detecting human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

Welcoming the participants, Jeremy Milson, UNODC Country Representative said: “I feel honoured today to address 25 police officers representing the Federal Investigation Agency and the Punjab police. As a woman who is raising a family while pursuing a career you have the challenge of doing two full-time jobs at once. Yet your positions as police officers place additional burdens on you at work and at home, requiring you to intervene, console and protect other families while also maintaining peace within your community. I deeply admire the dedication, skills and enthusiasm you bring to both these tasks.”

Highlighting the importance of women’s role in policing, Androulla Kaminara, Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan said, “Trafficking in Human Beings is a global challenge. Along the international routes, organized criminal networks exploit vulnerable populations with the false promises to escape from poverty and conflict. The EU recognizes along with the United Nations that Trafficking in Human Beings is a gender-specific crime.”

The training, delivered both online and in-person with COVID-19 safety measures in place, required participants to complete several UNODC e-learning modules on Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants prior to commencing the specialised week-long training. This measure ensured that all trainees –from different backgrounds and sections at the two participating law enforcement agencies–shared the same foundational knowledge about the crimes.

“Before I faced many hurdles. Now, with this training I have to tools to overcome them”, explained one of the participants following the training programme. Whereas another officer explained that, “This training is a benchmark in my career. Because of this training I will definitely break the status quo. I have learnt a lot through this training and will definitely apply these techniques in my investigations.”

In an effort to go beyond the classic classroom setting, participants will be granted three additional coaching sessions to complement the training programme. While the training itself follows a planned curriculum, the coaching will instead be semi-structured and tailored to the individual needs of the participants.

UNODC aims to continue providing specialized training to female law enforcement officers who, to date, had limited access to professional development opportunities within the field of human trafficking and migrant smuggling.