Forbes Magazine: Human Trafficking Is In Plain Sight. Are You Supporting It Without Knowing?

Forbes Magazine: Human Trafficking Is In Plain Sight. Are You Supporting It Without Knowing? Apr 24, 2017

Grassroots To Global

While there are no silver bullets to solving the worldwide trafficking problem, a globalizing world, government accountability and new technology have experts in the field optimistic. Technology, for example, has reached a point were an app like TraffickCam can use hotel room recognition, in hopes of finding where those being trafficked are working. Another site, LaborVoices, provides real-time crowdsourcing of factory sites so workers can report conditions.

In construction, contractors can develop various technologies while also ensuring their relationships with legal entities creates social impact. According to Mr. Koch, “We can make a difference in the fight against labor trafficking and labor exploitation by passing laws (and monitoring for compliance) that regulate supply chains. Consumers can refuse to purchase goods from retailers who use trafficked labor or child labor in their supply chains. Institutional investors can divest their positions in such companies.”

Legislation is also being crafted throughout the country to fight human trafficking, but thus far has done little the curb the problem that goes beyond verbal calls for human rights. In California, the Transparency in Supply Chains Act (TISC) forces businesses who work with suppliers or subcontractors that violate anti-trafficking laws to disclose violations and discontinue the contract. But those minimal efforts are not well enforced nor replicated in other states. Defining infrastructure comes from U.S. Government Procurement policies. But that has also been slow to implement. However, states and other countries are beginning to learn from emerging examples. For instance, the U.K. Modern Slavery Act of 2015 “has been a powerful antidote to end modern slavery,” claims Kate Kennedy. “The Act requires organizations with a turnover of more than £36 million operating in the UK to publish an annual ‘slavery and human trafficking statement’, setting out what they’re doing to address this form of extreme exploitation in their supply chains and business operations.”

Individual companies can help further legislative action. For example, CMiC, a computer software company based in Canada, can develop technology to help current government procurement policies hold contractors accountable. Oliver Ritchie, vice president of product strategy at CMiC, contends, “We should be able to insure that every dollar that the government spends on a project be slave-free. Legislation gives us a way to do this through transparency and compliance. Our product technology provides the opportunity for true implementation.”

But partnerships are also vitally important in the anti-trafficking space. The Freedom Fund, a philanthropy focused on strategic planning and financing, has supported almost 100 partners around the world doing grassroots work to fight modern slavery. Their mission is to identify and invest in the best efforts that allow local entities to thrive. This is because the best efforts are often by those who know the local culture the best. Further, academic research, capital funding, NGOs and nonprofit efforts and media awareness all have to come together to work collectively and educate the public.

Policymakers also have to take greater action–both in understanding the problem and in crafting legislative solutions. “Our collective hope,” says Dr. Enrile, “is to increase collaboration and to work in parallel on the crucial areas of legislation, awareness, research and interventions. Our commitment as a school of social work is to be a convener of thought leaders in the anti-trafficking movement to make meaningful collaboration possible.” There are thousands of people doing work to stop trafficking. But we need that number to be in the millions. We, collectively, need to do better. Millions of lives are at stake.

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