The Home Front and the Fight Against Human Trafficking – Part 2: Community Awareness and Action
By Jessicah Ray, PA-C
From Individuals To Communities
In August of 2018, ZOE shared practical tips for individuals to fight human trafficking on the home front by keeping eyes open to the signs of domestic violence, and by speaking up (https://gozoe.org/2018/08/24/the-link-between-domestic-violence-human-trafficking/)when the signs are there. In this addition to the series, we will broaden from the individual to the community – to learn how we can unify individual efforts to generate the greatest impact.
Opening Eyes & Speaking Up = Awareness & Action
Community Is The Key
Entire communities are affected by human trafficking, so it is imperative that the community as a whole is prepared to recognize and react as a united force. This year’s Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) (https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/282798.pdf) emphasized the importance of communities as the key experts to incorporate local context, unique trends, and population-specific needs into their public anti-human trafficking programs (Department of State, 2018). Often, these contextual details are too remote for global initiatives but are nonetheless more effective in addressing human trafficking (Johnstone, 2018). For example, it is globally known that the combination of human vulnerability, high profits, and low risk is the greatest catalyst to fuel human trafficking (UNICEF, 2017), but what does that look like in our communities? Is human trafficking concealed in our nail salons, hotels, or massage parlors? Is it hidden in plain sight by the 13-year-old getting into the car of her older boyfriend on a school day? Is it more obvious when the same child walks around the dark parking lot of a motel? Empowered communities are aware of what trafficking looks like in their area, and can act by activating trained response protocols that utilize local resources and partnerships.
Community Must Target The 3 P’s
So how does a community develop an awareness and action plan? Several resources exist to train communities in anti-human trafficking public programs. Successful multilevel anti-trafficking initiatives have confirmed that the critical factors for an effective response must include addressing “the three P’s” of protection of victims, prosecution of human traffickers, and prevention of human trafficking globally (Department of State, 2018). Community leaders can focus public development projects on awareness and action on these three P’s, especially among the priority groups that are most likely to come in contact with human trafficking victims such as first responders, local authorities, and community resource providers. Trained priority groups must establish strong partnerships with each other to strengthen the community response through shared knowledge and resources. ZOE is privileged to partner alongside these priority groups domestically and internationally to address the three P’s.
The TIP report serves as a guide for communities to build awareness trainings and action protocols with several step-by-step tools including how to:
- Build multi-stakeholder partnerships
- Conduct community-focused needs and resource assessments
- Conduct community-wide training and awareness programs
- Develop Response Protocols
Strengthen Community Initiatives Through Research
Numerous anti-trafficking programs have been launched from local to international levels, but we are still learning which strategies are most effective. Evidence-based research is vital to enhance both the awareness and action targets of the three P’s. Through research we can determine the most effective prevention strategies, the risk and protective factors of victimization and survival, the effectiveness of current health care screenings and response protocols, and ultimately the best way to implement human trafficking prevention and intervention programs (Rothman et al., 2017). Community involvement in this dynamic research is critical because of the diverse resource needs of survivors of human trafficking.
National governments and international organizations should welcome communities as valuable allies in the global mission to end human trafficking. At ZOE, we believe communities have the power to serve as an essential advocate and foothold against human trafficking. We are so thankful to all of ZOE’s community partners including law enforcement, government agencies, churches, schools, organizations, and families who stand with us in the fight to end child trafficking.
Department of State. (2018, June). 2018 Trafficking In Persons /report.https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/282798.pdf
Johnstone, K. (2018, June 28). The power of local communities in the fight against human trafficking. DIPNOTE. Retrieved from https://blogs.state.gov/stories/2018/06/28/en/power-local-communities-fight-against-human-trafficking
Rothman, E. F. 1. erothman@bu. ed., Stoklosa, H., Baldwin, S. B., Chisolm-Straker, M., Price, R. K., & Atkinson, H. G. (2017). Public Health Research Priorities to Address US Human Trafficking. American Journal of Public Health, 107(7), 1045–1047. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2017.303858.
UNICEF. (2017, January 13). What fuels human trafficking? Retrieved from https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/what-fuels-human-trafficking/31692