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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.
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).
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
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
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...
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