There are three main areas of focus in fighting human trafficking– prevention, intervention, and after-care.
All three efforts are invaluable to the rescue of the millions of men and women forced into slave labor or the sex industry today. Below you’ll find a brief overview of all three areas, and you’ll see why The Exodus Road focuses specifically on intervention.
Poverty, a lack of education, few women’s rights, corrupt governments, poor infrastructure, and thriving underground industries are some of the factors that play a role in most cases of human trafficking. Prevention techniques include community empowerment, poverty reduction projects, and educational programs. Providing sexual education, AIDS education, and trafficking awareness are also key prevention strategies. Changing a society’s view of labor, women, sex, and children, working within governments to make new laws, and intentional prayers are also key components here. It is vital that efforts continue to be made in this arena, especially in regards to the increased availability of education to impoverished girls.
As the final step in the process of rescuing a victim, after-care (including both rehabilitation and reintegration) is an important aspect of the fight against human trafficking. Facilities with special care given to victims are on the rise and hopefully focus on holistic approaches to restoring individuals. Responsible efforts must be made to give counseling, education, life-skills, and job-skills to former victims, empowering them to embrace a better future for themselves. After-care efforts also involve the legal means to restore a victim back into his or her society and culture, particularly if the victim has been trafficked across international borders. This is noble work that demands longevity and commitment from those undertaking it.
Targeted Intervention involves:
- Undercover investigations, including evidence gathering (preferably with a video recording device)
- Raids and rescues, in collaboration with the local police force
- The legal prosecution of criminals within the local court system
Intervention is a very difficult aspect of fighting modern day slavery. It is wrought with issues which naturally cause conflict regarding methodology. Working within local police forces can prove challenging because of the high levels of corruption, and the moral dangers of gaining intelligence on brothels and sex establishments is great.
It is also expensive work. Investigators can spend hundreds of dollars gathering evidence on a single case, only to have the local police choose a bribe over a raid. There are also costs for training, equipment, and travel for investigators, and since most of the organizations on the ground are grassroots and do not have the funding needed to conduct investigations, it’s very difficult to hand the local government actionable evidence. In addition, most local police forces and government agencies are also largely understaffed and underfunded.
Working in counter-trafficking, we have seen intervention as one of the missing links in the area of Asia where we primarily operate. There are very few people actually engaged in the work of gathering and then passing on prosecutable evidence to local authorities. And while we understand why, we also know that unless we throw wrenches in the cogs of the systems which make trafficking such a lucrative illegal business, slavery will continue.
We must make human trafficking and the sale of underage girls and boys more difficult, more risky, and more expensive for both the trafficker and the customer. Empowering more effective targeted interventions is a key to this process. It not only rescues the individual victim, but it also helps to shut down future brothels, rescuing the innocents who would have been imprisoned there, too.