During the “16 Days Against Gender Violence” campaign, human rights advocates have reflected on what they have learned from the fight against human trafficking. While men, women, and children are trafficked for forced labor, sexual exploitation, and their organs, gender stereotypes, and stigmas make women and girls more vulnerable to being trafficked and less likely for physical and psychological recovery.
Carol Michaels O’Laughlin, vice-president of empowerment & civic engagement at Winrock International
, expressed the urgency to act against human trafficking while keeping in mind five important lessons she has learned from experience. She urged advocates to use language that reduce stigma and engage whole communities, to focus on economic instability as the root cause of trafficking, to re-think the relationship of safety and freedom, to integrate family and community counseling, and to heighten the quality of training for psychologists and social workers working with victims.
The 16 Days Against Gender Violence has been both a time to celebrate the work that has been done in the fight against human trafficking and a time to look ahead with new goals and expectations. To make change, it is critical for advocates to move forward with the knowledge of lessons learned.