Statement from TWG Founder Bill Woolf on World Day against Trafficking in Persons
“All countries are affected by human trafficking through participation either as a country of origin, transit, or destination.” – United Nations
Nearly a decade ago the United Nations General Assembly gathered and expressed the need to raise awareness of victims of human trafficking and protection and promotion of their rights. In unison, they adopted a resolution that designated July 30 as the “World Day against Trafficking in Persons” and it has been observed every year since.
Human trafficking has the potential to touch each and every community across the globe, especially through the use of technology. Current global statistics report that “one in every three victims detected is a child” and that “the share of children among detected trafficking victims has tripled, while the share of boys has increased five times over the past 15 years.” Statistics like these cannot be ignored.
The Covid pandemic and digital platforms have added gasoline to the fire, therefore making this years’ theme the “Use and Abuse of Technology” which, according to the United Nations, has allowed traffickers to “recruit, exploit, and control victims; organize their transport and accommodation; advertise victims and reach out to potential clients; communicate among perpetrators; and hide criminal proceeds – and all that with greater speed, cost-effectiveness and anonymity”. As a former human trafficking investigator, I have seen how traffickers manipulate technology to scout, manipulate, and trap young people into a life of exploitation.
Most members of our TWG team have been involved on the front lines with identifying, supporting, and working alongside survivors of trafficking in addition to lobbying for passage of legislation and policy that improves collective action for the eradication of these human rights atrocities. We are passionate about raising awareness and supporting person-centered, trauma-informed approaches that are helping survivors achieve autonomy and holding offenders accountable. Additionally, we recognize the need for international collaboration between government and non-government organizations as an essential component to effectively reversing the trajectory and threat that trafficking in persons and other modern forms of slavery imposes on our society.
This week we also celebrate the passage of the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022. We have worked alongside our partners advocating for passage of this critical bill for many months. TWG is thankful for Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) leadership and dedication to ending human trafficking. This bill will strengthen, not only the U.S.’s response to human trafficking, but also the world’s.
We must all join together and support organizations across the U.S. who are working diligently not just on July 30, but daily, to help prevent trafficking before it begins by raising awareness in the communities about the threats of trafficking through the abuse of technology and offering restorative services to survivors. I challenge you to consider spending time volunteering for a trafficking organization or investing financially in a foundation or organization focused on trafficking. I envision a world where no child has to grow up with the threat of being trafficked or exploited, especially online. I believe this vision is within our grasp if we only work together to end human trafficking.