Awareness amongst the general public

In order to raise awareness amongst the general public, the relevant organisations could:

Set up awareness campaigns for the general public

The general public could come across signs of THB for labour exploitation without realising, for example in shops, hotels or on building sites. A campaign aimed at the general public could raise their awareness and call on them to report suspicious situations. This could for example be a THB helpline, a number to report crime anonymously, or the local police officer.

Such a campaign could for example focus on locations where a lot of people pass by every day, such as bus stops, train stations, airports and so on. Campaigns could also consist of advertisements on TV, radio, in newspapers or on websites or social media.

In the Slovak Republic, for example, the Ministry of the Interior held a national campaign named ‘Without information you become a slave’. During the campaign posters with the number of the National Helpline for Victims of Human Trafficking were displayed in the airports, bus and train stations. The poster images of the campaign were displayed via internet banners with 10 million displays. A campaign spot was broadcast on national TV. As a result of this campaign, the number of calls to the national helpline grew.

Run a national helpline on THB

A national helpline could be run by an organisation that is able to provide the callers with information about: travelling abroad for the purpose of getting a job, recruitment agencies and possible fraudulent activities by those recruitment agencies. A helpline should ideally be available all days of the week, 24/7. In case a possible victim calls, the helpline staff member should be able to immediately assist such a person. For example, in Slovakia, the national helpline is run by the NGO giving assistance to victims of THB.

Generate publicity about government actions

Communicating about the actions undertaken against THB for labour exploitation by government agencies could increase awareness. For example, newspaper articles on successful cases where the investigation of THB for labour exploitation has resulted in prison sentences for the traffickers or compensation for the victim. These cases can help draw attention to the issue in both source and destination countries.

Publicity could also discourage employers who might consider engaging in THB for labour exploitation practices, since it shows that there is a substantial risk of being caught. Destination countries could consider arranging press articles in the source country concerning the treatment of migrant workers in destination countries. This may improve prevention and protection of workers before they commit to migration.

Use consumer power to clean up supply chains

The power of consumers may be used to prevent THB for labour exploitation. Companies could choose to inform the public about which products are produced under fair circumstances, for example by using a fair trade label. NGOs could also set up awareness campaigns to draw the attention of the public to the conditions under which the products are produced. This way, the public might be persuaded to buy products produced under fair circumstances, instead of products of a questionable origin.

In the Netherlands, for example, Oxfam Novib introduced the Green Saint Nicholas, honest chocolate campaign.

Work with the media

To (sensitively) direct the public’s attention to the difficult situation of victims of THB for labour exploitation, organisations can work with the media. Seeing or reading about the stories of victims could convince the public in source countries that the issue of THB for labour exploitation is real. This may make them more inclined to seek information on safe migration options.

Before the media talk to a victim, NGOs could for example explain to them what the consequences may be for a victim that has to relive their suffering during the interview. And also discuss the public attention an interview can bring to a case.

NGOs could also educate the media to make sure they respect the privacy of the victim, only use information with prior informed consent, and that the media present a clear and balanced picture of the complex issue.