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Policy debate

January 11 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day, one of the many ways that the cause of fighting human trafficking will be promoted throughout the year. Is that a good thing? We asked 10 people who work with human trafficking awareness a simple question: 'Campaigns to raise public awareness of human trafficking may have flaws, but their overall impact is positive. YES OR NO?' This is what they answered.

Convenors

Elena Shih & Joel Quirk

Elena Shih is an Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown University.

Joel Quirk is Associate Professor in Political Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa).

Introduction: do the hidden costs outweigh the practical benefits of human trafficking awareness campaigns?


With support from Brown University's Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice and Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center.

Respondents

Anne Elizabeth Moore (NO)
Author of Threadbare: Clothes, Sex & Trafficking

Katherine Chon (YES)
Director of the Office on Trafficking in Persons, US Dept. of Health and Human Services

Joanna Ewart-James (YES)
Advocacy Director at Walk Free

David Feingold (NO)
Director of the Ophidian Research Institute

Matthew Friedman (YES)
CEO for The Mekong Club

Zoe Trodd (NO)
University of Nottingham

Cris Sardina (NO)
Director of Desiree Alliance

Marilyn Murray (YES)
Creative Director at Love146

Sameera Hafiz (NO)
Advocacy Director at the National Domestic Workers Alliance

Ima Matul (YES)
Survivor of Human Trafficking


Replies

Borislav Gerasimov (NO)
Advocacy Officer at Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Jamison Liang (YES)
Digital Programme Officer at IOM X

Kelli Lynn Johnson (NO)
Associate Professor, Miami University Hamilton

Dina Haynes (NO)
Professor, New England Law|Boston

Tryon P. Woods & P. Khalil Saucier (NO)
Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts; Associate Professor, Rhode Island College

Lyndsey P. Beutin (NO)
Doctoral candidate, University of Pennsylvania

Campaigners, activists and government officials spend much of their time and energy crafting messages that are designed to win specific audiences over to their cause. The main goal behind these messages is to ‘raise awareness’ of specific problems or issues, and to offer target audiences with potential solutions or remedies.

Human trafficking awareness campaigns intend to inspire both individuals and institutions to ‘do something’ (there is even a campaign called DoSomething.org). While taking action against injustice is undoubtedly a laudable impulse, the ‘something’ in question is by no means as straightforward as it might first appear. Thus while awareness campaigns may well reach large audiences, are they teaching their audiences the right things? Read on...

Call for responses to our policy debate on the overall effect of human trafficking awareness campaigns

On 11 January Beyond Slavery and Trafficking launched an online policy debate exploring the practical effects of human trafficking awareness campaigns. This debate is not yet complete, and now waits on your responses.

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