The emerging blockchain technology has not only rocked the financial market and economy but has a potential to save lives. Moldova, the human trafficking haven of Europe, is developing a blockchain project that would address its decade-long problem that is showing no signs of halting.
Slavery is still a sad reality for a vast number of people all over the world.
Anti-slavery organizations estimate that about 40 million people are forced into slavery, earning human traffickers a staggering amount of around $150 billion a year globally. Most of these modern-day slaves are young women, being preyed upon by traffickers who entrap them and then sell them for forced labor, forced marriages, prostitution, etc.
Human trafficking in Moldova is flourishing because of the miserable economic situation in this eastern-European country, caused by high unemployment rates and widespread poverty among youth. With a population of 3.5 million people, Moldova has an average monthly income of just 2,250 Moldovan Leu or $135, making it one of the poorest countries in Europe.
As in most societies, the most vulnerable population there are young women. Traffickers exploit their desire to earn a decent wage, promising them good work abroad. Once these girls arrive in another country, the traffickers take their documents away.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has helped around 3,400 victims in Moldova since 2011, of which as many as ten percent were children.
IOM estimates that over 40,000 children in Moldova have been dropped with relatives by parents who had to travel abroad looking for work, and these children are rarely under enough supervision.
“A lot of children are staying just with their grandfathers or grandma’s, spending (more) time in the streets,” Lilian Levandovschi, head of Moldova’s anti-trafficking police unit, told Reuters.
It makes it easy for the traffickers to prey on those children, which they take over the borders with fake documents and sell into prostitution or sell their organs.
(Source: Flickr/Ira Gelb)
Moldova intends to launch a pilot of the anti-trafficking project this year, in cooperation with the Brooklyn-based software company ConsenSys.
In March, ConsenSys won a UN competition, called “Blockchain for Humanity” Global Challenge, to design an identity system which would help combat child trafficking.
Their goal is to help Moldovan government by creating a secure, digital identity for Moldovan children on a decentralized digital ledger shared by a network of computers, i.e., a blockchain, which would link their identities with other family members.