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UJ students’ campaign to raise awareness on human trafficking

The School of Communication at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) is embarking on an integrated campaign, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which seeks to raise awareness on human trafficking in South Africa.​​​​

Caroline Azionya, a lecturer at UJ, says that annually, millions of people are trafficked across international borders. “Human Trafficking is modern day slavery. According to the IOM, South Africa is a source, transit, and destination country for victims of trafficking subjected to different forms of exploitation like forced labour and commercial sex. This collaboration will see our students develop an integrated awareness raising campaign for South Africa or the SADC region,” says Mrs Azionya.

The campaign forms a part of the University’s annual Strategic Communication curriculum and student assessment. The students, working in groups, are expected to function like communication strategy departments by conducting in-depth research to determine an appropriate strategy reflecting the principles of Interactive and Direct Marketing. UJ’s Department of Strategic Communication lecturers Caroline Azionya and Anna Oksiutycz, together with industry mentors from the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA), are providing guidance and workshops to support the student learning process. The top five student groups will present their final campaign strategies to IOM. The shortlisted projects are then entered into the Assegai Integrated Marketing Awards. Similar collaborations have yielded 10 Assegai Awards.

Mr Dixon Gaone, IOM Media and Communications Officer pointed out that according to the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report (TiP 2013), South African citizens and foreign nationals are also subjected to human trafficking within the country. “Children are trafficked mainly within the country, from poor rural areas to urban centres, such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and Bloemfontein. Young girls are mainly forced into commercial sex and domestic servitude whilst young boys are forced to work into street vending, food service, begging, criminal activities, and agriculture,” says Mr Gaone.

“Human Trafficking is a hidden criminal activity and it is under-reported despite availability of legislation in South Africa. This innovative partnership will help intensify our awareness raising efforts to save potential victims from exploitation and also make sure that perpetrators are brought to justice,” says Dr Erick Ventura, IOM South Africa Chief of Mission.
“UJ’s Department of Strategic Communication is very pleased to be partnering with IOM on such a worthwhile cause that we believe deserves greater public awareness. Part of our role as educators is to teach our students an awareness of the world in which we live, and the opportunity to partner with the IOM over the longer term offers our students an invaluable opportunity to develop and hone their professional competences, while also acquiring new skills and knowledge through real life experience. It also provides us and them with an opportunity to use our knowledge and skills to the benefit of the society, thus contributing not only to quality education but also to the quality of life in our society,” says Prof Sonja Verwey, Department of Strategic Communication HOD, UJ.​​

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