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UJ students take global fight against human trafficking onto social media

Students from the Department of Strategic Communication at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have rolled out a week long social media campaign to mark the annual Human Trafficking awareness week. Using the hashtag #TraffickingIsReal, the campaign will run until the 6th of October 2016.

#TraffickingIsReal focusing on Domestic/labour exploitation; Sexual exploitation; and Child trafficking, will be used as a platform to target young people and the general public to provide information, raise awareness and educate the masses on the risks, signs and dangers of human trafficking. Strategic Communication lecturer and Project Director for the campaign at UJ, Caroline Azionya selected and mentored students from the University that formed part of the campaign’s photoshoot. Students created messaging on human trafficking and authored different stories detailing how trafficking victims end up falling prey to traffickers.

 

Research on awareness levels of trafficking in persons

Results of research of the awareness levels of trafficking in persons conducted in 2014 by UJ students will be released throughout the week. The research forms a very important part of helping policy makers understand the issues around trafficking in South Africa.

This important research highlights that young people in urban areas are aware of trafficking in general but are still vulnerable because they believe that other nationalities are more prone to this crime than they are. According to the US State Department 2016 Report, Trafficking in Persons (TIP), ‘South Africans constitute the largest number of victims within the country. South African children are recruited from poor rural areas to urban centres where girls are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude and boys are forced to work in street vending, food service, begging, criminal activities, and agriculture.’

Chief of Mission for IOM South Africa, Mr Richard Ots says, “Trafficking arguably is the most important human rights battle of our days. Trafficking is often referred to as modern slavery, which I think offers us the correct perspective. Our fight against trafficking is the equivalent of the historical fight against the slavery of the 1700’s and 1800’s. Current estimates of the number of slaves around the world range between 15 and 30 million people. That is more than in any point in history. Human trafficking is trade in people. We are faced with an enormous challenge, and one that will require time, effort, dedication, and financial investments”.

Stressing the importance of the #TraffickingIsReal campaign and collaboration, Professor and HOD Strategic Communication Sonja Verwey, says “This ongoing collaboration between our department and the IOM is a much valued partnership that has allowed both our students, and us as educators to gain valuable experience in dealing with social issues, and through our working relationship with the IOM, also greater awareness of the impacts of migration on various aspects of society and the challenges these pose.”

Students and staff members of the University are encouraged to join the conversation online using the hashtag #TraffickingIsReal.

Click here for the Research on awareness levels of trafficking in persons Report

For more information contact:

Caroline Azionya

(011) 559 3617

cazionya@uj.ac.za

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