Education and awareness are key to preventing human trafficking
"Human trafficking can be stopped, if people of good will - both powerful people and simple citizens - feel that trafficking is morally and socially unacceptable, and take action against exploitation, injustice, and human rights violations." —UN human trafficking expert Maria Grazia Giammarinaro
Small steps can often have the biggest impact. In the global fight against human trafficking, it's not just governments and policy makers who can make a difference. It's not only law enforcement who can help a person in need. It's all of us – "simple citizens" taking simple steps – who are also able to make a significant difference in tackling a problem that affects an estimated 20 million people worldwide.
As we recognize the UN's World Day against Trafficking in Persons today, it's important to understand that education and awareness are key elements in preventing human trafficking. There exist many myths and preconceived notions about trafficking, about what it is and what it isn't: "It's only sex crimes." "It only happens in foreign countries." "It never happens close to me." But the reality is that human trafficking exists in communities and countries around the world, even close to home. And it's up to each of us to educate ourselves on the realities of human trafficking, as a simple but vital step towards prevention.
InterExchange makes it a priority to ensure that all of our exchange participants enjoy safe, healthy, and well monitored cultural exchange experiences, both in the U.S. and abroad. We ensure that all of our participants are aware, through orientations and program materials, of their rights and the protections afforded them. And we are also a proud supporter of the UN's campaign to fight human trafficking, and the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign. As a part of our commitment to providing safe experiences for each of our participants and to fighting the global problem of trafficking, every one of our program staff members takes the human trafficking awareness program developed by the Departments of State and Homeland Security. At InterExchange, we believe that every one of us can play a role in helping to combat human trafficking.
We encourage you to take a few minutes today, on this World Day against Trafficking, to educate yourself – to learn more about human trafficking and its realities, about what the indicators are, and about how you can take action (check out the resources below). This simple step of building your own awareness just might have a big impact down the road.