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Anti-Trafficking Philanthropy: A Cautionary Tale

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SWAN Vancouver Society

on 14 November 2017

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Transcript of Anti-Trafficking Philanthropy: A Cautionary Tale

Anti-Trafficking Philanthropy Red Flags
To continue this discussion or learn more about
critical perspectives of the anti-trafficking rescue industry, contact

SWAN Vancouver Society
604 719 6343
Facebook: Swan_Vancouver
Twitter: SwanVancouver
is BIG business.
Anti-Trafficking Philanthropy: A Cautionary Tale

SWAN Vancouver Society
November 2017

Anti-trafficking is BIG business.

"The provincial government did not break down how the
$72-million will be spent. " Globe and Mail June 30, 2016
Sensational stories that generate sympathy combine with ignorance so pervasive that so long as you put trafficking in the title of your wild claims, you can get away with anything. People throw money at this issue.
anti-sex work organizations
faith-based organizations
Who profits?
March 2015 Hycroft Manner/University Women's Club
Anti-sex work/Anti-trafficking donations ask: $10 000
Tonight's Take Away

"Circumspection. The exploitation of the girls at COSA occurred because its director learned early on that sensationalizing the stories of those he sheltered increased donations. The media abetted his success by failing to do due diligence in their investigative reporting. And unsuspecting donors unwittingly supported a man engaging in very questionable practices that hurt young girls. We are all complicit and need to avoid falling into such traps."
Anti-trafficking philanthropy is largely aimed at milking the privileged classes' feelings of guilt and pity.
What do we hope people take away
from this film?
The Wrong Light Producer Susan Maclaury,
sex trafficking - sex workers & sex worker rights orgs
labour trafficking- migrant workers & migrant rights orgs
Can the organization give a detailed breakdown of what the
money supports?
Does the money go to domestic or international raids and 'rescues'?
Is the money sent overseas?
How much time has been spent considering unintended consequences or collateral damage?
Thank you
Does the anti-trafficking initiative address all types of
human trafficking or just 'sex trafficking'?
Does the anti-trafficking initiative collaborate with those working on the ground in those fields?
Does the anti-trafficking initiative have an evidence base or does it rely on a base of graphic, violent, or 'sexy' images and stories?
But what are we saying?
Does human trafficking exist?
Should police, governments, NGOs, faith-based groups & others fundraise and/or work to address it?
However, when it comes to anti-trafficking initiatives, we ask for

informed, responsible & ethical advocacy
healthy skepticism
prudent & circumspect charitable giving will you know?
Operation Northern Spotlight
October 2017: $$$$$/53 police agencies/14 arrests/unclear how many cases will actually go to trial
While these factors are not always necessarily a bad thing ,
in some cases they can be cause for concern.
Red Flags
We are accustomed to seeing human trafficking indicators/red flags in 'training toolkits', which have come to include everything from having a STI, difficulty establishing or maintaining healthy relationships, texting to substance misuse. 'Training toolkits' neglect to point out these red flags could indicate many issues that are not human trafficking. Furthermore, it is unclear the extent to which these red flags are based on empirical evidence of human trafficking.
The following list turns the idea of 'red flags' on its head in order to raise awareness about the well-meaning but sometimes inadvertent harms of anti-trafficking philanthropy. We hope this list encourages people to be thoughtful about the anti-trafficking causes and organizations they support by inspiring healthy skepticism that encourages extra research and that extra question.
*Red flag
Full transcript