Between June 24-28 I attended a Lab about human trafficking, organised by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, GIZ and the Global Leadership Academy, held in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Lab brought together 33 people from 25 different countries working in different capacities to fight trafficking in persons in the 21st century context.
What we learned over four long days and evenings is that there is no one profile of a potential victim, stereotypes about “it only happens to other people” don’t hold up. There’s no age or gender restriction, although research indicate that the majority of cases of trafficking are women and girls. Also we understood that although many of the laws and policies to prevent trafficking in persons are already in place, there is very little awareness about the issue from the very top, starting from governments and other officials, going down to NGOs and the civil society. We also spent time identifying elements that constitute TIP.
One theme that was recurring was the deep need for partnerships. Between law enforcement agencies and NGOs and society at large. The other big one was understanding the effects of poverty on the supply chain. Last, but not least, was the need for the media to address the demand, versus just focusing of supply. It is crucial to understand that TIP is a lucrative, multi-million *insert currency* industry, thriving better than at any other time in human history. The demands for human slaves is high and we need to reflect on that as a human race.
femLENS’ role in fighting TIP is very small, could be almost invisible, but if we get it right, could be very meaningful. We are now working on organising documentary photography workshops for victims and survivors of human trafficking. We want to give them tools and a voice through a mobile phone camera, to tell us their stories, in their own ways, with their own level of comfort. They can reveal as much or as little as they choose, but it will be up to us to see something in those stories.
femLENS Founder and Workshop Facilitator