There are a startling 21 million victims of forced labour and sexual trade around the world, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). Children and women fall prey to traffickers, some due to their circumstances and many due to false promises, force and deceit. Human trafficking, a multi-billion dollar trade, affects deeply every country in the world, partaking as places of origin, transit or destination. It was the sheer magnitude, scale and severity of this global concern that the United Nations in 2013 declared World Day against Trafficking in Persons, to acknowledge and act against this heinous crime against humanity.
With almost a third of trafficking victims being children, this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) focuses on ‘responding to the trafficking of children and young people’, whose liberty, dignity and essential rights have been stolen, and its time we did too.
While many of us remain unaware of what falls under the ambit of trafficking, the process, people and places involved in making it possible, and its proximity to our lives and the lives of our children, here are some anti-trafficking initiatives and campaigns that attempt to make a place in our minds and hearts and push us to join the crusade against it.
The Good Father Campaign is the result of nearly 18 months of ground-work and research by the Operation Red Alert team and a research paper by the Behavioral Architects TM of Final Mile, Mumbai. Launched in 2016, and supported by MS Dhoni, the underlying belief of this campaign is that a father is key to prevention of sex trafficking. When fathers are urged to ensure that decisions are made in favour of their daughter’s safety and well-being, they can curb the demand and make the business of trafficking less lucrative for traffickers.
The 3 pillars of this campaign include exposing the issue of trafficking through mass media, empowering people to take action by providing a national helpline that addresses trafficking and eradicating the issue by grassroots level education of families that are vulnerable to trafficking.
Snippet: The Good Father campaign partnered with Oculus VR for Good and filmmaker Jayisha Patel to create the first Virtual Reality documentary focusing on sex trafficking in India. The film shares the true story of a daughter and father, and how, working together is the only solution to prevent sex trafficking.
Started in Kansas, United States, this campaign by Street Grace is aimed at cutting the demand for prostitution as a way to fight child trafficking. Their belief is that just like every business, child sex trafficking too operates on the economic principle of supply and demand – the supply being children who are frequently abused and exploited at a young age, and the demand coming from individuals seeking to buy children for sex. Till date, responses to child sex trafficking have been focused almost exclusively on the supply side of the equation. Providing rescue and rehabilitation services to survivors is crucial, but this approach only addresses half the issue. It does not target what perpetuates the industry: Demand. To prevent further demand, the campaign’s focus is on protecting children before they are exploited, raising awareness, as well as arresting and aggressively prosecuting the traffickers and purchasers and also bringing together local, state and federal resources with private organizations so that each stakeholder can play their part in thwarting child trafficking.
Snippet: The Attorney General of Nebraska launched the demand an end campaign in his constituency, followed by many others who joined in to support the cause to put an end to trafficking of minors.
Not a #Number, an interactive, five-module prevention curriculum designed to teach youth how to protect themselves from human trafficking and exploitation through information, critical thinking, and skill development, was developed by Love 146, an international human rights organization, working to prevent child trafficking and exploitation. Using the most relevant and current information in the field of child exploitation, Not a #Number focuses on respect, empathy, individual strengths, and the relationship between personal and societal pressures that create or increase vulnerabilities.
Targeted to empower youth who are vulnerable to trafficking, this initiative is used by schools, child welfare, juvenile justice agencies and youth organizations. The curriculum was developed for the age group of 12-18, including male, female, and youth that identify as LGBTQI, also applicable across gender, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Snippet: The Co-Founders of Love146 traveled to Southeast Asia on an exploratory trip to determine how they could serve in the fight against child sex trafficking. In one experience, they were taken undercover with investigators to a brothel where they witnessed children being sold for sex. Here’s the real life story that sparked their abolition movement.
Using art and technology to create social change, the Missing Art Project works both locally and globally, transforming public perceptions, educating individuals, communities and policy makers, and inspiring action to put an end to modern day slavery.
With art as a tool for activism, this creative initiative has used large public installations – black silhouettes of young girls in open public spaces constructed from iron sheets that represent young girls who have disappeared to various forms of exploitation, an activity that was simple and engaging, spoke to everyone and transcended language and space and encouraged the public to take on the stencil project in their own communities. Today, this project uses wall art, interactive murals and hard-hitting narratives to engage people on the issue of female trafficking.
Snippet: Recently, Leena Kejriwal, Founder of the Missing Art Project launched a role-playing game – MISSING – designed to put players in a decision making seat and giving them a subliminal experience of what a missing girl goes through. You can play the game here.
The Red Light Campaign supports survivors of slavery and works to raise awareness about the occurrence of slavery in the world today. A visually appealing campaign, it is made up of young volunteers, working to provide rational solutions to victims and survivors.
Their aim is to address child sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children by pressuring governments to enact or amend legislation to address the issue more effectively and allocate more resources towards enforcement of laws. The Redlight Children Campaign Manifesto focuses on advocacy efforts relating to Internet chat rooms, child pornography, sex tourism, and extraterritorial enforcement that it believes should be passed in every country in the world.
Snippet: A way to get involved with this campaign is through the Cube movement, a new and innovative social network against human trafficking and modern-day slavery, building global online chains of communication between individuals and communities based on real world interactions. You can pass on the cube here.
The Blue Heart Campaign against Human Trafficking works to raise awareness on the plight of victims and to build political support to fight the criminals behind trafficking. This global initiative works in support from several countries across the world. The Blue Heart represents the sadness of those who are trafficked while reminding us of the cold-heartedness of those who buy and sell fellow human beings. It also aims to make the Blue Heart into an international symbol against human trafficking (like the red ribbon for HIV).
The Blue Heart Campaign is currently supported by governments, private sector, NGOs, goodwill ambassadors and concerned individuals around the world. It encourages involvement and inspires action to combat human trafficking.
Snippet: An initiative of the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)the theme for 2018 is ‘responding to the trafficking of children and young people’ since a third of trafficking victims are children.
Free a Girl India aims to fight against human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children. We do this by raising awareness about the problem of child prostitution and the impunity of offenders of child prostitution. We believe there is a need to change the conversation, to mobilise society to rally behind the girls that have fallen victim to this crime, and to demand justice. It is important to break the silence in many countries about child prostitution and the need to prosecute the offenders. Free a girl is a coalition under Free a girl international, partnering Sanlaap, Freedom Firm, Transforming Lives Foundation, Equal Community Foundation and Odanadi.
This initiative focuses on creating awareness about commercial sexual exploitation of children and the impunity of offenders of child prostitution and mobilising the support of local society to fight against this crime for sustainable change.
Snippet: Free A Girl India works in close collaboration with School for Justice, an institution where girls rescued from child prostitution will be educated to become lawyers and prosecutors with the power to prosecute the criminals who once owned them.