In our arsenal of weapons to combat human trafficking, knowledge is one of the important tools. If you haven’t already taken our Human Trafficking 101 course, it is a wonderful way to get a base knowledge of what human trafficking is and how to fight it. Another powerful resource is the yearly Trafficking in Persons or TIP report released by the US Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. This month, we’re going to spotlight a few of the important parts of this report.
The TIP report highlights important issues and threats to address in the fight against human trafficking and celebrates those who have been joining in the fight and the role survivor leaders play in working to end human trafficking. The report also uses a tiered system to identify how countries are doing in their battle against the problem of trafficking and tells the stories of heroes who are working against trafficking and stories of those who have been trafficked worldwide. Since 2001, this report has been a window into what is happening globally and the developing response to it.
The 2021 TIP report focused on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on trafficking. It detailed how many factors like a growing number people who were economically and socially vulnerable, the inability of some people to migrate or to leave dangerous situations, and increased demand for online sexual exploitation contributed to increased trafficking activity. The data on the impact of the pandemic on the exploitation of children is staggering with a 95% increase in online searches for child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) in India and an 98.66% increase in online enticement reports in the US in 2020 during the height of the pandemic.
The pandemic also deeply affected trafficking survivors, and the 2021TIP report chronicles how about 70% of trafficking survivors surveyed in 35 countries indicated heavy impacts on their financial well-being, raising the risk of re-victimization. For many, lockdowns triggered memories of exploitative situations causing a decline in mental health. With competing priorities, reduced capacity, decreased financial resources, and fewer workers and volunteers, the resources invested worldwide in combating trafficking also decreased during this time.
The 2022 TIP report has just recently been released and can be found here. This report shines a light on the importance of implementing a trauma-informed approach, which is a key part of the work we do at Rebirth Homes. It also asks organizations to continue to include survivor voices and survivor leaders in the fight against human trafficking, which is another important aspect of Rebirth Homes’ work. As the Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in his introduction, “human trafficking affects us all. Its impact ripples across the fabric of our global community. We must work together, and in partnership with survivor leaders, to effectively address this crime.”