According to the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) assessment of Human Trafficking victims in worldwide, around 21 million victims are exploited in all the forms of this crime. The biggest motivation for those combating Human trafficking through media to be so tech savvy is that a great portion of trafficking happens through and on the internet. So, what can media do in combating Human Trafficking?
Enabling Public Visibility through the “right” images
Using images as a powerful tool in helping audience visualize the crime, is a big responsibility of the media outlets, which should have the right knowledge and cautiousness regarding the symbolism and sensitivities that they represent. Attaching images to human trafficking coverage should cultivate in public the principle of un-commodify of human beings.
Advertisements in the print or online media providing information for services/jobs, etc. can sometimes result into exploitation of trafficked victims. To help prevent media outlets becoming a conduit for the exploitation of people, NGO-s should empower them to have the potential to follow these principles:
- Provide trafficking hotlines alongside adult classified listings
- Cooperate with police in investigations where they are able
- Those persons who are interested in obtaining adult services, must be aware that they may encounter victims of trafficking. They must also be aware of where to report any such suspicions
Media has the duty of respecting discretion with reference to personal information about victims, prioritizing their anonymity, considering their difficulty to reintegrate into society and the possibility of their re-victimization being always present. Due to the lack of a realistic validation of these cases, the challenge in covering such stories is narrating them undocumented. However, by pointing out the connection between our daily lives and modern day slavery, through these stories media plays a great role in holding the perpetuators “on the hook”, but also call upon the society, consumers and governments.
Using reliable data and investigate independently
In response to unreliable official data, debatable diverse methodology used by other entities, journalists should have the tools to dig deeper into the issue of human trafficking aiming to portray it more responsibly, sensitively and ethically. Reporters often are led by numbers and look for provable traces, but reliable statistics related to human trafficking are difficult to find, especially in the developing countries where Internews work is focused. Human trafficking is a clandestine crime and few survivors come forward for fear of retaliation, shame, or lack of understanding of what is happening to them. Numbers are not always the story. To make awareness raising sustainable, continues investigative journalism on trafficking should be promoted and encouraged.
Here are the names of some of the most pertinent technological approaches in the field of fighting slavery: “The Spotlight”, “The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Memex program”, “The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC)”,NHTRC SMS-based textline, “Microsoft’s PhotoDNA”, “The CyberTipline”, “MTV’s Exit”.
Sustained awareness raising, enabling visibility, ensuring responsible and discrete reporting, preventing through independent investigation, are just some examples representing the great role and responsibility the media has in mobilizing public support and involvement to help prevent and combat trafficking, as a powerful tool of social change.