The fight against human trafficking can sometimes be overwhelmingly sad and difficult. While it is important to keep survivors’ suffering and pain at the forefront of our minds, it is also critical to celebrate victories and be hopeful about a future in which slavery does not exist. Here are 10 signs of hope from the past year for the human trafficking movement:
- The U.S. House of Representatives passed over a dozen bills that aim to curb human trafficking. One of them, the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act, allotted half a billion dollars for federal programs that do everything from train law enforcement officials to provide assistance to survivors to investigate human trafficking rings. Others require certain sectors to provide training to spot potential victims.
2. Backpage.com, the notorious online marketplace, shut down its sex ads section which has been implicated in almost 75% of child sex trafficking reports in the US.
3. The United Nations teamed up with World Identity Network to launch a pilot program using blockchain technology to combat child trafficking. The blockchain is a cryptographically-secured list of records that will store digital identities and make it easier to prevent, trace, and catch traffickers.
4. The UK created an elite multi-agency intelligence unit specifically to fight human trafficking. The unit’s model mirrors that of terrorism-focused units and will focus on targeting organized crime groups.
5. A Wisconsin tattoo parlor is doing its part by helping survivors cover up their brands from pimps with beautiful artwork for free.
6. The Thomson Reuters Foundation gave its second Stop Slavery award to Adidas, who has emphasized responsible sourcing, transparent audits, and was one of the first companies in the world to create a position dedicated to fighting slavery. Adidas also employs technology that enables their workers to speak freely about abuses.
7. Airlines and airports are ramping up their training of everyone from flight attendants to shop clerks on how to spot potential human trafficking victims. Delta has trained two thirds of their 80,000 employees so far and is working on installing informational signs in hub airports.
8. Legislation targeted toward the trucking industry is making its way through Congress and has bipartisan support. The bill’s focal point is the creation of a new human trafficking prevention coordinator role in the Department of Transportation, who would work on education in the industry and evaluating how individual states are dealing with the issue.
9. Flowroute, a Seattle telecommunications company, has partnered with Polaris, the non profit that runs the national human trafficking hotline, to better improve their call technology. By focusing on eliminating background noise and doing everything possible to keep calls connected through software rather than hardware, the company is making it easier for survivors to get the resources they need.
10. Marinus Analytics, whose deep web analytics tool Traffic Jam is used by law enforcement all across the country to bust trafficking rings, announced the launch of new facial recognition technology called FaceSearch. FaceSearch will be used in conjunction with Traffic Jam to find missing persons from photographs posted in ads and online.
When tackling something seemingly insurmountable, progress on any level, from a tattoo parlor to national legislation, is something to be hopeful about. Tell us your signs of hope for the fight against human trafficking on Facebook and Twitter!