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Trafficking in the News: From the Close of 2016 & A Look Ahead
January 5, 2017

The news round up from the end of 2016 provides a useful foundation in looking forward to what’s in store for 2017. From Thailand’s economic sector, to America’s new President, to academic reports on the global state of trafficking, we have our agenda set for the new year. Here’s a look at trafficking, around the world:


Thailand Shifts to a 4.0 Economy

Thai businesses are looking forward to a shift towards high tech and an economy driven by high skilled workers. The problem is the lack of infrastructure, especially in education, to support this shift. This highlights more than ever the need to keep our students in school and help them gain access to the skills, experience and opportunities needed in high tech industries so they don’t get left even further behind–and even more vulnerable to the lures of the lucrative and exploitative sex industries.

From Bangkok Post: “Thailand 4.0: Are we ready?”

Microsoft Leading Effort to Combat Trafficking By Teaching IT to Thai Students

Apropos to the above article, Microsoft is working on a project to bring Information Technology (IT) education to 1,200 students in 7 campuses across Thailand, with the aim of providing youths with computer and IT knowledge to help mitigate the risks to trafficking, and with the hope that they will spread and share the knowledge to other youths.

From Phuket Gazette: “Microsoft aims to use IT to battle human trafficking”



In Thai Town, L.A., A Multi-Disciplinary Effort Proves Powerful in Post-Intervention & Rehabilitation

The Thai Community Development Center in Thai Town of Los Angeles has proved to be a formidable force in prosecuting trafficking cases found in the area. But what is most remarkable about them is that post-liberation, they focus energies towards securing economic freedom for rescued victims of trafficking, with tools for economic self-sustainability and long term growth. They help survivors find apartments, emergency funding, apply for T visas, and connect them to jobs at Thai restaurants and other related businesses in the area. It’s a fantastic model for others to follow–and if you’re in the L.A. area, maybe it’s worth getting some Pad Thai to support survivors and the businesses helping them get back on their feet!

From Yes! Magazine: “The Team Helping LA’s Thai Human Trafficking Survivors Find Justice–And Jobs”

An Uber Driver Rescues a Girl Victim of Sex Trafficking

An Uber driver in Sacramento noticed suspicious activity between passengers he was taking to a hotel. Listening carefully to what they said, he realized he needed to take action, and became instrumental in helping a 16-year-old girl who appeared to be a victim of sex trafficking. This example goes to show how powerful collaborators in other industries can be to the anti-trafficking effort. If you see something, say something.

From Fortune | Tech: “Cops Say Uber Driver Saved 16-Year-Old Passenger from Sex Trafficking”

Trump’s Team Asks for Lists of Names of Those Working for Gender Equality

Due to Trump’s apparent opposition to work on climate change, when his team asked for a list of names of people working on climate change in the Department of Energy, it was seen as the precursor to a possible witch hunt. So when Trump’s team followed up with a call to the State Department for a list of names of those working on the issue of gender equality, it was viewed in much the same vein. “The Trump team asked the State Department’s bureaus and offices to list any programs or activities that ‘promote gender equality, such as ending gender-based violence, promoting women’s participation in economic and political spheres, entrepreneurship, etc.'” Notably, for those of us working to combat child trafficking, the trafficking of individuals falls under the purview of these programs and activities. While the Trump team subsequently sought to calm anxieties about the purpose of such a call, State Department employees are strongly requesting more clarity on intent.

From NPR: “Trump Team Asks State Dept to Name Those Working on Gender Equality”



UN Report Shows Children Are Almost One Third of World’s Trafficking Victims

A recent report released from the U.N. finds that children comprise almost a third of all trafficking victims, globally, with sexual exploitation and forced labor being the most predominant kinds. This highlights the moral imperative to continue efforts to eradicate trafficking worldwide.

From CBS News: “A U.N. report finds children comprise nearly a third of trafficking victims”

UN Releases Report on Transgender Trafficking Victims in Bangkok

Friends of ours were instrumental in producing a report, recently released by UN ACT, on transgender sex workers in Bangkok. The report draws on interviews and highlights the physical and sexual abuse suffered by transgender workers in the sex industry, both in their line of work and from the community writ large.

From UN ACT: “Same Same But Different: A Baseline Study on the Vulnerabilities of Transgender Sex Workers in Bangkok’s Sex Industry”

Racism and Ethnic Bias’s Role in Trafficking

In related news, scholars have produced a study showing that racism and other forms of exclusion and oppression contribute to human trafficking–to resounding non surprise for those of us working in the field.

From Taylor & Francis Online: “Cultural Oppression and Human Trafficking: Exploring the Role of Racism and Ethnic Bias”

But Here Are Some Key Tools for 2017

It turns out businesses, legal experts, and government agencies are bringing forth their collective expertise and hope that 2017 might be the tipping point in the fight against trafficking. From DNA forensic technology helping to provide more visible supply chains, to stronger laws, greater education and awareness efforts, and better data collection, 2017 promises to usher in even better tools to help eradicate trafficking.

From Jakarta Globe: “From DNA to Laws to Data, Five Key Tools to Combat Trafficking in 2017”


Looking Ahead

January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month!

It’s Human Trafficking Awareness Month and we are proud to work with DHS’s Blue Campaign to help end trafficking.

From the Department of Homeland Security:

On January 11 – which is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day – wear blue clothing or accessories and tweet a photo of yourself or post to Facebook with #WearBlueDay. Encourage your colleagues, friends, and family to participate and organize a group photo. National Wear Blue Day promotes greater public awareness about human trafficking and will generate additional conversation about this heinous crime.

So, next Wednesday, don’t forget to wear some blue and post about it!


Happy New Year, everyone!

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