The most basic human rights continue being violated in increasing numbers


Catalina Echevarri at the Anesvad Foundation office in Madrid. Credits: Zanete Asmane

On 16th of November I had the honor to meet Catalina Echevarri in Madrid; a person who has devoted herself to charity work for the past 20 years. For Catalina it has been a dream job to be able to help those in need and to make the world better. She strongly believes that this has been her calling the same way some feel that a career in law, medicine or engineering is their calling.  She has worked for charities such as Red Cross, Intermon Oxfam and Unicef, however for the past 7 years she has been committed to Anesvad Foundation developing different functions in the Asia region and in the field of Human Trafficking. Currently she is leading the founding team and is part of the Anesvad gender team. However, the conversation mostly evolved around the issue of human-trafficking.

Regarding this, one must clarify what exactly is the definition of human trafficking as many of do not actually know and refer to it as a grey area. Nevertheless, Mrs. Catalina explained the definition perfectly as it is defined in the Palermo Protocol, stating that:

”It is an act of transportation or transfer of a person, by means of the threat or use of violence. Meaning, it is against their will. Also, the definition compromise three different elements. That is, the act, the means and the purpose.”

Once we discussed the out-most basic of our topic, we went on discussing the current situation in Asia. However, the numbers are terrifying.  While Mrs. Catalina made it clear that, ”the exact number is unknown as it is an illegal phenomenal that cannot be easily tracked,” the numbers show that around 20 million world-wide are in the situation of human trafficking and half of them come from the Asia region.

One of the reasons is because of the high number of people being in the low-income class. While the number of the low class representatives is decreasing, nevertheless, is still one of the causes. This leads us to the second reason- money. Because there is such high number of individuals who are in need for financial aid, they do start to look for different means in order to survive. This is one of the underlying reasons why a huge number of individuals find themselves being trafficked because of a family members or close acquaintance betrayal. The percentage goes as high as 26, 5 %.

Despite all the above, the situation has improved over the past decade. Mrs. Catalina stated that this is because of the higher awareness that has been provided to the public and through this has put the Governments under pressure to improve the current situation. Additionally, the existence of the Palermo Protocol, which was adopted and opened for accession in 2000, puts the countries under obligations to take action in order to abolish human trafficking.

In the ”Health and Human Trafficking in the Mekong Region” study different facts about the actual patterns of risks, abuse and occupational hazards were collected and has brought higher awareness to the population. As of this, let’s consider the statistics in more detail.

About 57, 5 % are women and over one third of the participants, that is, 35,1 % were below 18 years old.

And sadly, the main reason is for sex work, while for men it was fishing work and similar work.

To make matters worse, 47, 7 % of participants in the questioner admitted that some type of violence was used. Here, I am adding a more detailed table of what type of violence has been used:

In conclusion, it is easy to say and argue that none of the genders or age groups are completely protected. And while these statistics are related to Asia, Mrs. Catalina stated that, ”it is a world-wide problem that must be conquered and this can be reached best if all of us work together.”

Despite all the negativity these statistics bring, Mrs. Catalina has not lost faith and takes rather positive outlook. What she has observed in all the survivors is their most magnificent strength  and added, ”that it makes you try harder to become a better person against any odds the world brings. Moreover, all this experience has brought me to understand how exactly I want the world to be and to do something about it to make it that way.”


And if you, the reader, are interested to help out, evolve as a person and connect with other people experiences, then there is always a way and many charity organizations that will welcome you with open arms! For example, a good start would be the Haces Falta website that is basically a database of all the possible charities, nationally and world-wide. However, if your interest is related to promoting the right to health and wish to help out, feel free to contact Anesvad through


Written by Zanete Asmane


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