Awareness amongst vulnerable groups

How can organisations raise awareness about trafficking in human beings (THB) for labour exploitation amongst vulnerable groups of (possible) victims?

Organisations such as ministries, law enforcement agencies, embassies, local or regional governments, NGOs and trade unions in both countries of destination and countries of origin could:

Raise awareness about labour rights, risks and remedies

Raising awareness of the risks of THB for labour exploitation in the countries of origin can help people to avoid becoming a victim. Migrant workers should not have to depend on recruiters for information on their destination country.

Potential migrant workers need to be informed about the circumstances they will encounter in the country they would like to work in, such as the cost of living, the minimum wage and sectorial wages, health insurance, taxes and so on. That way they know when the wages that are offered are too low to live on in the country where they are going to work. Even though those wages may seem fine for their own country.

Migrants also need to understand that they should not sign any contracts they do not understand. They should insist on a contract in their own language. Finally, they need to know about the risks of THB for labour exploitation and where they can find help if they are in trouble. The information could offer concrete solutions to common violations, include contact details of police forces and NGOs, and could provide avenues for support to claim rights, instead of just explaining what not to do.

Different approaches could be used for different age groups, using television, newspapers, social media, websites, posters, meetings and so on.

Examples of awareness campaigns

  • The Slovak Republic, for example, used a Facebook campaign to warn potential migrant workers about recruitment under false pretences.
  • Organisations in the Netherlands are working together with sister organisations in Bulgaria, Poland and Romania to strengthen cooperation in the field of labour migration. One result of this cooperation is for example a film for Polish migrant workers on living and working in the Netherlands.
  • The Ministry of Social Affairs of Estonia launched a website to raise awareness and inform people about working abroad safely.

Use understandable language

In the ideal case, information aimed at potential migrant workers is formulated in a language that the victim can understand. The information could be offered in a format that is tailored to the target group, for example: written information, verbal information or visual information such as a cartoon. And the information can be shared through channels that the intended people are known to use.

An example of this is the bus stickers that NGOs produced and that were put on the back seats in buses going from Slovakia to the United Kingdom. The stickers gave information on labour rights in the United Kingdom and contact details of a local NGO in case of need.

Raise awareness in schools

Children that are about to leave school and enter the labour market are one group of possible victims that awareness activities could be aimed at. Lectures in schools can help inform them of the risks of THB for labour exploitation.

Raise awareness in migrant communities in countries of destination

Making use of cultural mediators or peer educators from a migrant background who have contacts in migrant communities could be essential. The possibilities for law enforcement agencies to access vulnerable communities are limited, so it is important to involve NGOs in spreading information.

Raise awareness among irregular migrants

Workers without legal residency have rights too. So it is important that they also are made aware of the risks of THB for labour exploitation.

Set up national awareness campaigns to prevent internal trafficking

THB for labour exploitation is not only a cross-border phenomenon. Internal trafficking is a wide-spread problem. With some adjustments, (social) media campaigns such as those described here for migrant workers in countries of origin could also be aimed at nationals who may be at risk of exploitation in their own country.