There’s nothing like a new year for a sense of revitalization, fresh energy, and optimism for what’s to come. While 2017 was a challenging year in many ways, and for many people, we are looking forward to the possibilities 2018 might bring!
Though 2017 was a year in which many people had to tighten their belts, what might have gone unnoticed is that there has really never been a more exciting time in the growth of anti-trafficking efforts. The wealth of information, expertise, and growth of networks and relationships have all contributed to much greater sophistication in all aspects: prevention, intervention, and aftercare.
There are several promising initiatives we’re witnessing in anti-trafficking efforts. Here are some worth keeping on your radar!
More and Better Data
Data on trafficking is notorious for relying too heavily on estimates that may be inaccurate or based on unreliable sources. Recent years have seen increased pressure to collect more and better data, because there is still so much we could understand better, if we had better information: how to target at-risk populations more specifically, what leads traffickers to become traffickers and how that can be prevented, how to build and develop better and more powerful prevention programs, and better ways to reach victims.
Harness the Power of Relationships
Some of the most exciting developments in anti-trafficking efforts has been the partnerships and alliances that have arisen to combat trafficking. In Thailand, this involves the collaboration between social workers, legal advocates, and law enforcement to rescue victims, provide aftercare, and prepare investigations to ensure traffickers are brought to justice while protecting the needs of the victims. In the U.S., health care professionals and members of the tourism industry have participated in widespread efforts to learn how to identify victims and bring them to safety.
Another potential avenue lies in reaching out to the tech industry to help provide better accountability for sites hosting trafficking situations (like SESTA), and to help victims reach authorities who can bring them to safety (like Polaris Project’s investments in texting and social media technology to provide hotlines for help).
Greater General Public Awareness
People tend to think that trafficking is something that happens “over there,” and “to other people.” But this is false. It’s global. Its causes are global, and so are the effects. To learn more about that, check out our Let’s Get Intersectional series in our archives. The more we can do to bring the issue and how it relates to so much of our daily lives to wider attention, the better.
Understanding Cyber Trafficking
The latest shift in trafficking has been to cyber exploitation, both for child pornography and to offer trafficking victims for sale online. It’s our task now to learn how to identify potential victims and trafficking situations online, and to prevent it from happening where possible.
We’re excited to be a part of these initiatives, and with your support, we’re thrilled to have you alongside! We hope you’ll join us, and if you haven’t already heard about our new online shop of products made by our very own sustainability programs, check out SHOP SERI! Or check out our Ethical Storytelling platform to learn more about telling victim/survivor stories ethically, and with dignity!
Dr. Jade Keller is the Thailand Program Advisor and Editor for The Freedom Story (formerly The SOLD Project). After receiving a PhD in Political Science from UC Santa Barbara, she moved with her family to northern Thailand in 2010 to work in child trafficking prevention, education, and helping to raise awareness. She currently writes from Berlin.