The International Labour Organisation currently estimates that almost 21 million people are victims of forced labour; 11.4 million women and girls; 4.5 million subjected to forced sexual exploitation.
Alaskan Airlines flight attendant Sheila Fredrick, said had an instinctual reaction the moment she saw a young women; visibly distressed, unkempt and sitting beside a man of finer stature. She went on to correctly report and prevent this incidence of sex trafficking from progressing; alerting the pilot and calling police to the arrival terminal.
Many like Sheila are in a position every day to recognise and report cases of sex trafficking across borders and oceans, which is exactly why former flight attendant, Nancy Rivard founded Airline Ambassadors, a specialised training initiative for flight staff to recognise and report on incidents. These organisations can make an enormous impact.
Here are just few examples of passionate people realising innovative and intuitive ways to stop sex trafficking in its tracks:
Airline Ambassadors International
AAI is a not-for-profit organisation functioning under three main precedents; providing humanitarian aid to victims, protecting children via a Medical Escort Program and educating people through their training series.
Initially focusing on airline personnel, the initiative has grown to include networks of students, medical professionals, families and retirees who provide a range of post-identification care and prevention support to victims. At its core, AAI provides training to airline staff, including in-flight and ground staff on how to identify victims.
This Australian-based start-up is a brand built on the ethos that empowering women within communities that are affected by the trafficking trade can be a catalyst for change. To help put this idea into action, the company specifically employs young women rescued from or affected by human slavery and sexual exploitation to make its premium quality denim. The effects are two-pronged: firstly, women who have previously fallen victim to the sex trade are given an opportunity to thrive again on their own terms in a supportive environment, and secondly, other women in the community avoid falling victim to the trade thanks to the creation of viable employment opportunities.
This clever app puts the average citizen on the front line of combating the sex trafficking trade. The app asks people to submit photos of the interiors of their hotel rooms, wherever they may be in the world, creating a helpful database of snaps to compare with those that pimps post online. Early testing proved that the app is 85 percent accurate in identifying hotels and now, the database has swelled to a collection of over 1.5 million snaps.
Officially an independent charity in 2008, Stop The Traffik was inspired by one man’s experience with the sale and consequent disappearance of a young brother and sister from a family he had come to know in Mumbai, India.
Challenged by the thought that these children were likely illegally sold into sexual exploitation and trade, UK national Phil Lane started Stop The Traffik as a community led initiative to put a stop to the abhorrent crime of human trafficking for the sex trade.
A global pioneer in their work, STT has previously had successful appeal partnerships with the Financial Times, successfully forged the Global Blanket Campaign to #makefashiontraffikfree and developed the Stop The Traffik App – a reporting app that allows users to learn identifiers and provide street-level data in order to allow STT to develop intelligence led initiatives to protect vulnerable peoples.
In addition, with the help of donations, the STT team are working toward making supply chain transparency a legal requirement globally as well as looking to a network of pro bono business experts for awareness raising and resource develop within companies in order to avoid all types of human trafficking.
Live Your Dream
An online activist and volunteer network, Live Your Dream focuses on stepping in before trafficking can occur. Understanding that education is the key to living a life free from violence, LYD invests over $1 million each year to provide education grants for young women.
Creating women who are able to be assets, not burdens to their families, LYD ensures that young women are given guidance and advice on training and career development for the future. LYD dreams of a world where women and girls “have the resources and opportunities they need to reach their full potential, live free from violence and of course, live their dreams.” Through social and economic empowerment, LYD has been able to spare indigenous women from Canada, children from poor neighbourhoods in Mexico, working children in Bolivia; and many more from facing a life of exploitation and trafficking.
Not My Life
Written, directed and produced by president of the non-profit organisation, Worldwide Documentaries, Robert Bilheimer, the 2010 film Not My Life ‘takes viewers into a world where millions of children are exploited, every day, through an astonishing array of practices including forced labor, domestic servitude, begging, sex tourism, sexual violence, and child soldiering.’
Filmed across five continents, the documentary is being used as a tool to educate communities worldwide about the millions of children who are exploited every day. Calling for action and sharing messages of hope that one day victims of slavery and servitude can be set free and go on to live happy and productive lives, Not My Life has been screened globally at registered house parties, classrooms, public screenings and community events; with donations for each download going to a number of non-profit partners tackling the issue of trafficking.