We were recently asked to comment about a new series of ads about sex trafficking of girls. Here is what we submitted
(Oh, and here is the article/ad )
Thank you for reaching out the Break the Chain Campaign about the advertisements and your interest in our opinion as a respected anti-trafficking organization.
We think creativity in public outreach about human trafficking is essential, and the high profile celebrities featured here add an exciting element. While they might be clever, they run the risk of being too simplistic and lighthearted about the depth and breadth of the problem. All forms of human trafficking, including trafficking for forced labor, need media attention and it is good to see so many folks lend their celebrity to these ads.
We realize that the focus of the organization is to serve only this particular sector (girls trafficked for sex), but we hope that future advertisements, whether through this organization or others, can address the fact that boys and transgender children are also trafficked for sex, and that children and adults in the US are also trafficked for purposes other than sex, such as domestic servitude and agriculture.
While it’s natural to focus media attention on demand, since it is one area Americans might feel some control over (e.g. they are helping by agreeing not to “buy girls”), there may be unintended consequences for oversimplifying the message in this way. Ending human trafficking requires more than just not “buying girls,” and Americans need to be more empowered and proactive. Media campaigns should help educate them about how to identify various forms of trafficking; media campaigns should share what resources are available for victims and how to access them; media campaigns should inspire people to be advocates. Simply “not buying” and calling it a day doesn’t get the job done.
However narrow, we look at the ad as a unique and interesting first step, but hope that future ads will be broader in scope about the trafficking experiences of all genders and ages, and broader in scope about what the American public can do to combat it.
Tiffany Williams, LGSW
Advocacy Director, Break The Chain Campaign
Institute for Policy Studies
1112 16th Street NW, Suite 600| Washington, DC 20036
Ph: (202) 787-5245 | Fax: (202)387-7915