January 11 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day – and January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month!
You’re probably seeing a lot of anti-trafficking organizations sharing important facts and statistics about trafficking awareness and banging the drum about the urgency of the problem.
And the problem is urgent. But the urgency of this moment takes on a different dimension at this phase in the anti-trafficking movement, and we’d like to delve into the nuance of it with you.
It’s different than the urgency of the 2000s, when major journalists, policymakers, legal professionals, and pioneering NGOs started waking up to the scale and atrocity of the problem and first started spreading the word and mobilizing resources to respond.
It’s different than the urgency of 5-10 years ago when the field began to ramp up professionalism, more tools came to bear to fight the problem – and when misinformation started to spread about what trafficking actually is.
It’s different than the urgency of the start of the pandemic when everyone’s foundations were shaken. And it’s different than even a year ago when people scrambled to cope with the aftermath of the pandemic’s effects.
If you look past scare-mongering headlines to actual results, there’s much to be grateful for from the world’s collective efforts. Extreme poverty is decreasing – and even the pandemic didn’t have as much impact as anticipated. What this means is not that there isn’t a problem, but that our collective efforts are having an impact. The persistent issue with prevention work is finding a way to prove that you stopped something from happening. But we believe strongly that we can compare our graduation rates to those in the region and have confidence that we’re helping kids stay in school. We can look at the stories of kids who were on the brink of a risky decision and have confidence that our staff mentors helped avert a crisis. We can look at how many professionals in the region consistently show up to workshops and conferences, ask smart and informed questions, and share valuable experience, and we can have confidence that it makes a difference in how cases are handled and that there are better resources and better access to justice for survivors now than before.
The urgency of this moment is less about mobilization and more about sustaining and building on what’s come before. The urgency is about maintaining our momentum and taking care not to tire out – especially if fatigue comes from a constant deluge of bad news. Our culture’s emphasis on bad news can make it feel like efforts aren’t working or make you wonder why you should continue in a fight with seemingly no end. We hope to buoy you with a reminder that all this effort isn’t for naught. We’re making an impact. YOU are making a difference.
So be aware that trafficking is a problem, it’s pervasive, and an enormous challenge. But also be aware that our work together truly matters. We are so grateful to you, for your commitment to positive change in the lives of vulnerable children. Thank you for standing with us.