Each year, on July 30, we raise awareness about World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. This year’s theme focuses on the use and abuse of technology.
Over the pandemic, society had to shift from in-person interactions to those using online platforms to communicate, shop and do business. While technology is a beneficial tool for society’s use, it is also used by those involved in the crime of human trafficking.
Traffickers can efficiently, and often anonymously, recruit, exploit and control their victims. They could also use technology to advertise, organize transportation and accommodation, and communicate with other traffickers.
However, technological innovation can also work in favour of those involved in eradicating human trafficking. Technology can be leveraged to aid in investigations of trafficking networks and it can be used for digital evidence to support, and provide aid to, trafficking survivors.
Simple Ways to Get Involved
The isolation caused by the pandemic has exacerbated the number of people who find themselves in precarious situations in which they become more susceptible to exploitation by human traffickers.
One way to help reduce feelings of isolation is to reconnect in ways that feel safe and hopeful. We can help each other feel safe by expressing our natural curiosity. When you are curious, you can’t be angry or judgmental. For example, ask yourself, “What might cause someone to do what they did?” or “What might they be feeling?” Imagine if someone asked you, “Why are you worried?” rather than them telling you, “There’s nothing to worry about.”
Another way to reconnect is to lend a hand. Helping someone can reduce their stress and anxiety. You could check in on your friends and family, volunteer, or send a thank you note to someone who has helped you through a tough time.
If you’d like to reach out and lend a hand, but are not sure where to start, consider your lived experience. There is great value to lived experiences. For example, many colleges have opportunities for students to meet with alumni. Here at Covenant House Vancouver, we believe that lived experience is invaluable in enabling the highest level of efficacy in our work. That is why we have ensured four paid positions within our anti-human trafficking project for survivors who have lived expertise.
There’s no way to know how long COVID will remain, but if we can try to stay connected, through social interactions, as well as through social media, we may just help others feel less isolated.