SI President’s Post: Promoting Awareness of Human Trafficking

Innovative education for effective crime prevention: the Alliance promoting awareness of human trafficking among flight crew.

“Human trafficking is a heinous crime and one which affects women in greater numbers than men. Soroptimists worldwide raise awareness, and advocate for change to address this confronting issue.

An event I attended aimed at sharing innovative ways of using education as a tool of prevention, and was held on Thursday 25 May 2017, at the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna. It was moderated by Soroptimist International’s UN Rep to Vienna, Dr Martina Gredler in  her capacity as Chair of NGO CSW Vienna.

I learned from this side event that Airline Ambassadors International had brought in a mandate for airport personnel to be aware of indicators of human trafficking – it could be for labour, domestic servitude, or sex.  These include young children and women travelling on their own or being controlled by another person. Flights attendants who identify potential trafficking inform the pilot, who calls ahead to the police at their destination.

AAI President Nancy Rivard, stated that they have a mandate to ensure flight attendants are trained.  They work in partnership with The Blue Heart Campaign to stop modern day slavery – through Prevention, Protection and Prosecution.  Participating airlines also provide information in their in-flight magazines, short videos, and signage in the toilets with contact details.

Deputy Director for UNODC Division for Policy Analysis and Chief, Policy Support and Public Affairs Branch, Gillian Murry, shared with us that 70% of victims of trafficking are women and girls and there is an increase in those being trafficked for pornography, (as a cybercrime).  UNODC’s Blue Heart Campaign started in 2010 and is now in 14 countries.

The Blue Heart symbol expresses the cold heartedness of the seller, the sadness of victims, and is the colour of the UN, indicating commitment to UN principles. The UNODC partners with civil society to raise awareness to fight human trafficking and its impact on society, and build support to fight the criminals behind it.

Greg Bristol, President of Human Trafficking Investigations and Training Institute, shared information that currently there is little training in the detection of human trafficking, but that this will change. Human traffickers move victims into the US by plane, bus and trains. They have three steps before they make any money: Acquire, Transport, Exploit. He added to the points of awareness: The trafficker and victim could have a tattoo in common, one person answers questions for another, one person holds all tickets and money.

Carlos Perez, Co-ordinator of National Project against Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling (UNODC country office in Colombia), shared details of their five day training which included survivors sharing their stories.

Mary Shuttleworth, President of Youth for Human Rights International, shared that 1.2 million children are trafficked per year and that youth are potential perpetrators and victims by their peers. They teach Human Rights to students as a prevention tool. Mary shared a story of one girl who would have run from her trafficker if she had realized there were universal human rights (she had been moved from South America to US and did not realize there were human rights in the US).

I was privileged to be present, representing Soroptimist International and have our SI UN Representatives in Vienna supporting the event”.

Photo: Left to Right: Birgit Karner, the representative of Youth for Human Rights on the Vienna NGO CSW committee SI President Yvonne Simpson, Mary Shuttleworth (President YFHR) SI President-Elect Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, SI UN Representative and Chair of NGO CSW Vienna, Martina Gredler.



Authored by

Yvonne Simpson

President 2015 – 2017

Soroptimist International



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