Engage with Survivors of Human Trafficking to Design and Implement an Effective Anti-Trafficking Program
Survivors of human trafficking are often overlooked when companies seek input into how to design and implement an anti-trafficking program. Yet, survivors are the most knowledgeable about how traffickers operate and what victims of trafficking need most. They understand deeply the nature of vulnerabilities to trafficking and how best to help people who are victimized by traffickers or who are at risk of such exploitation. Survivor input is essential to crafting the right policies and practices.
As a survivor once said, “Nothing about us, without us.”
There now exists a substantial number of survivors of human trafficking who have identified themselves as willing and able to inform policy, shape programmatic and funding decisions, provide training and technical assistance, and lead educational efforts. Their voices need to be prioritized.
On December 16, 2015, President Obama announced the historic appointment of eleven members to the first-ever U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking to advise and make recommendations to the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. The members of the Advisory Council are survivors of human trafficking and represent a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. The Advisory Council was established by the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which was enacted on May 29, 2015.
Survivors should be consulted on all elements of an anti-trafficking program. Survivors should be compensated by companies for their time and expertise like any other employee or consultant. (Survivors are sometimes asked to contribute their expertise without being offered compensation; many agree as the issue is important to them, but this places a burden on the survivor and should be avoided.) Survivors can be employed or hired as consultants to provide a wide range of expertise, including but not limited to:
- Creating realistic, effective awareness-raising and training approaches for employees, suppliers, business partners, and others in a company’s supply chain.
- Providing training to companies and employees on the dynamics of trafficking and other related topics.
- Developing risk screening approaches and tools.
- Designing, implementing, and evaluating grievance mechanisms.
- Reaching out and engaging vulnerable communities and survivors in a company’s global supply chain.
- Networking with civil society groups in countries of operation.
- Creating effective materials to educate workers throughout a supply chain about company policies and practices to prevent trafficking.
- Changing recruitment practices that often lead to labor trafficking.
- Uncovering and eliminating practices by employees and suppliers that contribute to sex trafficking.
- Avoiding the creation of materials that are unrealistic and/or offensive to communities a company seeks to reach.
- Determining sound approaches to remediation and compensation for victims of trafficking.
Companies can begin the process of engaging the survivor community by reaching out to organizations in the United States that facilitate survivors taking on leadership roles in the anti-trafficking field, such as:
- The National Survivor Network (http://www.castla.org/nsn), which brings together a community of survivors of both labor and sex trafficking. This network maintains a speakers’ bureau and can facilitate linkages between companies and survivors.
- The Voices of Hope Initiative (http://www.safehorizon.org/page/human-trafficking-support--leadership-voices-of-hope-344.html), which is a platform for engagement by a diverse group of survivors to provide input on anti-trafficking policies and programs by companies and others.
To suggest additional resources or avenues for engaging trafficking survivors to post here, please contact verite(at)verite.org.