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Our second #VVLead Twitterchat last week explored issues of human trafficking. We were inspired to spark this conversation by the D.C. opening of The Whistleblower, which has achieved quite a bit of press for its interpretation of a true story. 

Our V.P. of Human Rights, Cindy Dyer, joined our discussion as we talked about vulnerable populations, reasons that trafficking takes place, what governments are doing and should do to end the practice and how the public can support advocates who are working to prevent and end trafficking. 

Key takeaways from the Twitter conversation

– All populations are vulnerable to trafficking and, as @SCEME_MENA pointed out, particularly victims of conflict. “Women and children are uniquely [vulnerable] – they are the majority of all identified victims.” – Cindy

– This is even true for US citizens. “Please let’s not forget the #humantrafficking taking place right here in the USA. It may be in your neighborhood-or 20 blocks away.” -@mgyerman

– Our VV chapter in Brazil, Elas por Elas, said that in Brazil the “black and poor population are more vulnerable, and the younger black women in particular.” And in Mexico, “immigrant populations crossing the country to get into the US are particularly vulnerable to #trafficking.” – @MelissaMoralesM

– Labor trafficking involving domestic servitude is also a major problem, for example, in the Middle East. “Men, women and children from across Asia & #MENA are trapped in slavery there… [but] only 1% of studies focus on MENA, so to get a full picture/comparison is hard.” – @SCEME_MENA

– @PietraCoalition pointed out an instance that took place in the US involving a maid hired from the Philippines, whose passport was confiscated, trapping her in the country.

– “I think lack of econ opportunity drives #trafficking – women and men who are trafficked are looking for jobs.” – @StephenieFoster Demand pushes the call for supply, while poverty drives people to what they think are opportunities for financial autonomy. 

– There has been a recent push to decrease demand, thanks in part to campaigns to reauthorize the TVPA in the U.S. But “it’s important to address all factors of #trafficking-including prevention, demand and rehabilitation.” – @HelahRobinson

– Regarding the reauthorization of the TVPA: “For real? That’s something that needs reauthorization?? Not a permanent act? Wow.” – @AlexRinkus

– The UN protocol on #trafficking has been signed by 117 countries. “I wonder how many of those who signed it have actually enforced it as well…” – @AlexRinkus

– How can we best support advocates against trafficking? “It depends on the country-in the US, we can support legislation and ask about company labor practices. Also, I heard Ambassador CdeBaca say that they are looking at an app to evaluate who makes the products we buy.” – @StephenieFoster “I also think creating more awareness in our own family/friends circles is a good start.” – @AnchalProject

Participants mentioned key legislation and work, including: 

– Ending Violence Against Women and Human Trafficking: A Guide to New Strategies

– The 2011 Trafficking in Persons report 

– The TVPA, which is up for reauthorization

– Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s new resolution to fight trafficking, H.R. 2759

– ECPAT’s Code of Conduct, to prevent child trafficking in hotels and airports

The Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking (VV is a part of this coalition

They also suggested several films and documentaries about trafficking, like Nepal’s Stolen Children, The Unity Movement, anti-trafficking ads to be shown in Florida, the plays of Catherine Filloux and many more (h/t Polaris Project!). Mass media and entertainment, like movies, are great ways to continue the public discussion on trafficking and make people more aware that this problem really is all around them. 

Read the full Tweetchat and see the participant list here

Further reading

Stephenie Foster’s interview with director Kathryn Bolkavac

If you wrote about the Tweetchat or have written about The Whistleblower, post the link to the comments and we will feature it in this post. 

Watch out for future announcements about our next #VVLead Twitterchat!