National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month

This January, the Global Center for Women and Justice is honoring National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month through an emphasis on solutions for the heightened levels of exploitation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Even under normal circumstances, identifying and providing resources to human-trafficking victims is challengingNow, with the added complications of the pandemic, NGOs and law enforcement around the world are struggling to address the increased vulnerabilities of women, children, and men, and to provide exit services and resources for those who have already experienced exploitation.   

In a recent podcast, Arise Director and Co-founder Luke de Pulford and Arise Manager of Frontline Advocacy Tove van Lennep discuss how they adapted their programs to meet the new challenges COVID-19 has created. Like many organizations that provide prevention programs in high-risk communities, Arise, an anti-slavery and anti-human trafficking NGO that works around the globe to protect communities from exploitation, faces new barriers in providing outreach and building relationships in the absence of in-person interaction. In response to the pandemic, van Lennep recounts how Arise “pivoted” their programs “in the early stages of lockdown, as the most effective slavery prevention became to provide food and emergency supplies to high-risk communities.” [1]  

lack of economic security coupled with stay-at-home orders has exacerbated the vulnerabilities of high-risk communities and populations. High unemployment rates have left many families and individuals unsure of how to pay bills or put food on the table. Increased calls to domestic violence and child abuse hotlines demonstrate the dangers of at-home isolation with abusive partners and parents.   

In a recent report, the UNODC notes that “children are at heightened risk of exploitation, especially since school closures have not only precluded many from access to education but also from a main source of shelter and nourishment. In some countries, because of the pandemic, more children are forced on to the streets in search of food and income, heightening their risk of infection and exploitation.” [2]  

As organizations and law enforcement continue to pivot their approach to human trafficking prevention, GCWJ continues to work diligently to provide resources, education, and research. Amid the pandemic, we have continued our soft launch of CARE68, an online community for church leaders to gain resources and learn how to address human trafficking and exploitation within their faith-based communities.   

Recognizing the inherent dignity of all survivors, GCWJ offered four scholarships to survivors of human trafficking and is currently accepting applications, being one of few organizations to offer trafficking survivors scholarships to a four-year university.   

This year, we are launching our first virtual conference. Ensure Justice 2021: Being Crushed considers the unique experiences of vulnerable people to exploitation and trafficking, which have intensified during COVID-19. 

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