“So, what do you do?"
There it is. The question that has the capacity to turn a light conversation at a party into a real downer, making people cry or suddenly feeling unsafe in their world. As the leader of an anti-trafficking organisation I’ve had to learn how to talk to people about the harsh realities of human trafficking. I have the ability to make them feel like the world is an unsafe place. Or I can choose to help them see the needs and how they can do something about it. I always choose the latter. I do tell people about the realities of trafficking but I always couple it with how they can do something about it. I think it is important to leave people feeling like they can do something rather than human trafficking being something we just have to live with.
Maybe you’ve tried to have conversations with your friends about human trafficking and it’s all gone wrong. Maybe they didn’t want to know, it was too difficult to hear or just left everyone in tears. This isn’t especially good if the conversation comes up at someone’s birthday party! Here are some tips I’ve put together to help you have conversations that bring change not tears.
Think of the conversation as a journey. First, you need to explain the situation and how it is relevant to them but make sure they know you are going to tell them how they can change things:
This happens all over the world. Human trafficking is a multi million dollar industry and impacts every country and over 27 million men, women and children. There are different kinds of trafficking: 1) Sex trafficking where men, women and children are forced into prostitution; 2) Forced labour where people are forced to work in difficult conditions, little or no pay and no freedom; 3) Forced begging where people are forced to beg on the streets and give all they receive to their slave masters. They are often maimed to attract more money; 4) Organ trafficking where people are tricked or forced into having organs removed and then sold.
Trafficking is hidden. Human trafficking operates through organised crime networks. It is crime and therefore intentionally hidden. But if you look you will see it.
Traffickers don’t play by the rules. People are often confused how people can allow this kind of thing to happen in the world. Traffickers don’t play by the rules and very little regard for human life. They operate in organised crime networks where violence and threats are common place. They will present on Facebook and gaming communities as 14 year old boy when really they are 36 year old women grooming unsuspecting children for prostitution. They will sell you a job too good to be true. They will prey on your hopes and dreams.
However, we do not need to accept this as normality in our world. We are not powerless. We have a voice and we can use it to stamp out human trafficking in our world. Really. We can do something!
Buy slavery free products. We can refuse to buy from companies that have slavery in their supply chain. There are apps you can get that can make it easy to find out how slave free the companies you buy from are. Find out more here
Don’t normalise pornography. The rise of the internet has sparked a rise in the availability and accessibility of pornography. It is more accessible than ever. We shouldn’t use it and we should encourage conversations and policies that refuse to make it a normal part of life. Behind the scenes of the demand of pornography are the men, women and children who are being forced to perform sexually and be photographed and filmed in order to keep up with the demand. Have you noticed the number of movies coming out that make pornography a normal part of life. If we didn’t have a society that demanded or normalised pornography, then we wouldn’t have an organised crime sub culture that supplied it.
Talk about stranger danger and safe social media. Traffickers lurk behind Facebook profiles and gaming profiles in the same places that our children hang out. They are looking to build relationships with children who will accept contact from people they don’t know. Take the time to talk to children about being safe on social media and not talking to strangers.
Lobby for better laws. Each country has a legal system that can either protect or accuse those caught in human trafficking. Find out your laws and lobby for change if needed. Sweden has adopted a great law which penalises the buyer of sex rather than the seller (who is often a trafficking victim). This means that the clients of prostitution go to jail. Over an 11 year period, this has seen a 50% reduction in prostitution in the entire country.
Treat men and women equally. Men and women are different but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the same rights, wages, education and opportunities as men. We need to bring gender equality into our society. As long as women can be objectified as sex objects, or domestic violence is tolerated, we will have trafficking in our society.
Get informed. Knowledge is power, so encourage your friends to learn all they can about human trafficking. It can’t remain hidden if people know how it happens. If you are looking for a quick introduction to human trafficking, try our free 30 day email course
Remember, next time you talk to your friends about human trafficking, be ready to mobilise them into action. People are far more likely to engage in a conversation when they feel they are empowered to do something.
Now go on, have that conversation. You can make a difference!
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