This is discussion about A Business Solution to Fighting Slavery.
It is obvious that TEN does great work and is making great strides in impacting the lives of survivors. In your entry you mentioned that as TEN expands you hope to be able to reach more men. It would be interesting to hear more about this. Why are men currently a vulnerable population in terms of trafficking? Are they more vulnerable to trafficking, are they underserved, are they hard to reach, any if so why? How would your current programming objectives and strategies have to change to successfully reach men and incorporate them as beneficiaries?
Also, it would be interesting to know what types of products survivors are making, how they are marketed to the public and even a bit about the process of deciding what products survivors produce. It is market-driven, skill-based, or resource-driven?
Keep up the good work!
Public Health and Trafficking Specialist
Thanks for your questions. I’ll try to keep my answers reasonably short but it’s a complex and important topic so please ask any follow-up questions my answer might raise. You probably already know a lot about this but since there might be folks reading who don’t Ill try to keep it fundamental.
There are a variety of different types of slavery that people are trafficked into, so while women are trafficked primarily for sexual exploitation or domestic service, men are often trafficked for labor. The reasons men are venerable are the same reasons women are vulnerable: poverty, lack of opportunity, culture, and poor or corrupt law enforcement. Are they underserved? Well, slavery and trafficking in general is one of the most underserved human rights problems in the world, so yes they are, and there do seem to be more NGOs currently working on trafficking for sex than for labor.
There is one other element that to be honest I had not thought much about until this past year. This really gets to the prevention of trafficking. In communities that have a lot of trafficking for sex, like brothel communities and border/transit communities, its obvious the girls grow up vulnerable to be exploited. But we can’t ignore the fact the boys are growing up venerable to be the exploiters. The boys in these communities are future pimps and traffickers.
An NGO that works to prevent trafficking in these communities made a pretty good case to us that it is just as important to educate the boys and give them opportunities for a life that gets them out of the trade as it is for the girls, and having seen their programs work, this makes a lot of sense to me.
You asked how our programming objectives would need to change to work with men. This is not so much a forward thinking policy shift for us as it has been an evolution. We started strictly working with women survivors of sex-trafficking. We then met some great prevention programs working with young women and their families and started working with them (groups like DEPDC). Then Free The Slaves asked us to work with a group of women that had been rescued from intergenerational slavery in rock quarries. They were making beads but needed help expanding the program. (product example - http://store.madebysurvivors.com/product-p/san10glass.htm ) In that case whole families were rescued so we asked what the men were doing. We also have a current need for a group that can do lost wax casting for jewelry and it turns out the men in the community have casting skills. Now we have not set that up yet as we don’t have the resources available, but just because those families have been rescued from one form of slavery does not make them immune in the future. Their poverty, lack of opportunity, and low social status make their daughters and sons prime targets for sex and labor traffickers. So helping the whole family unit is an important part of the prevention strategy and I would be happy to able to work with the men in that community – especially as it would be very practical for us to combine the bead making, and jewelry casting possibility into a really nice and productive community enterprise.
So in a case like that, it’s an evolution. There is a group on the border of India and Nepal that has been asking us to set up a program and this is in a community where the only business is trafficking and prostitution. If we are able to help them I can see opportunities there to help the boys as well, for the same prevention reason I wrote about above.
So we are not talking about making dramatic changes to our program objectives or strategies. We believe in being very focused and have no choice but to be as efficient as possible with our resources. The only area I see that we should make an effort to expand the program about men is with the training videos we use for ambassadors and home parties. We now have a lot of people who have done multiple parties and we need to get them fresh material and use that opportunity to educate them further about other aspects of slavery. So we plan soon to do some videos on labor trafficking and more about men in sex-trafficking.
it is for a good cause, it will change many, i hope you win, best wishes. Rachel www.peacecaravan.wordpress.com
Im answering the business part of your question separately as the other part was getting long.
We currently focus on jewelry, handbags, homegoods, paper products, and clothing. (see http://store.madebysurvivors.com/ ) This is all meant to be demand driven in that we want to help our partners produce products for western consumers. We start with what our partners already know how to do (like sewing) and we look carefully at other products in their local markets, and what materials and trainers are available locally. But we don’t just buy what they can make just because they can make it, we shape the products to work for a western consumer.
Also, most of our partners don’t know how to figure out things like product or order level profitability, so we help them focus on products that are the best products for them to make.
We market to the public in several ways. Our favorite way is the home party, which as you may know is a $10 billion a year industry in the US. We like that channel because it lets us educate our customers about slavery and recruit the party guests to get involved. This does not just mean recruiting them to host more parties, we recruit volunteers for our other partners as well. It’s a tool for growing the abolitionist community.
We also sell on the web and use traditional product placement marketing to drive that channel. For example, our placement team got us a full page article in Family Circle lately. Things like that drive web sales and party recruitment, and educate a reader base that mostly is unaware slavery still exists.
And we are expanding into wholesale as well. With e-commerce and wholesale we still try to keep an element of education, so we have educational tags on our products and are working on improving educational materials that will go to all our customers. Most of our wholesale customers are fair trade or socially conscious gift shops and they really get behind us and help us educate their customers so we need to create more display based educational material we can give to them.
sorry - double post
The Emancipation Network
It would be great if you could include some more details about the impact of your work.
Sorry it took me so long to get to this question about impact. We had one of our Nepali partners in the US this past week working with us on expanding their operations and I was buried in the details of that work.
Our impact is on three different populations. The first population is the survivors and at risk women that work in our programs. I’m going to add a quick story about one survivor below, but these women have been through so much that it is amazing they can function, let alone become successful and live happy, normal lives. But they want the same things all of us do, security, safety, and family, and the jobs they get through our program are an important part of living a normal , happy life.
The second way we make in impact is on the next generation and the community. This means the impact on the children of the survivors and the high risk groups (like the children in the red light districts we work with). Extreme vulnerability to trafficking and slavery is not caused by random bad luck: vulnerability is caused by poverty, lack of opportunity, culture, and other factors that we can change. Basically the community is not strong enough to protect its children. Our belief is that the empowerment, jobs, education, and community strength that is created by programs like ours and many others in this competition, will result in reducing trafficking and slavery.
The remaining systematic impact we hope to make is to help building awareness about slavery and recruiting a generation of modern abolitionists. Most people in the US are unaware slavery even exists, let alone how they can help survivors and end slavery. This is why we don’t just buy the products and market them generically as Fair Trade. We sell Made By Survivor products, and link our selling to education. When a consumer gets one of our products we want to use the product and the materials we send with it to open them up to the reality of slavery and the reality that they can do something to end it. We are especially interested in working with other Abolition groups that need volunteers and funding so we can help recruit our interested customers to help other Abolition groups.
I know this is long but I wanted to add one story to make the point that even the best success stories are at risk of failure if we don’t make systematic changes to ending slavery. This story is about a survivor who was trafficked into a circus in India at about 7 years old. Circus trafficking is part labor trafficking, as they are slaves that are made to perform dangerous acts, and part sex trafficking, as the circuses are also traveling brothels. This survivor was rescued in her teens and had several years of excellent therapy and rehabilitation. As a young adult she went to go work in one of our partners income generation programs, and now sews some of the bags we sell. It is amazing that she could go through what she has and end up where she is as, but this and most other stories are never that simple. She is unable to return back to her home because her parents and community think she is a slut. Trafficked at 7, against her will obviously, and this lost daughter is viewed as a slut. So she has an enormous barrier to feeling like part of a community or family.
One day she went to the manager and said that she was going to leave the sewing work because she we going to the middle east. She was going to pay a recruiter $2,000 that she had saved from work to be sent to the middle east to be a maid. For those of you who don’t know – this is very often a trafficking scam. This young woman, who had already survived trafficking, was about to put herself in a situation that very likely would have resulted in being trafficked again. Because she had a great relationship with the staff, she told them about her decision and they were able to work with her to make her understand the risk she was taking, and happily, she decided to stay.
I tell this story to help explain how complicated and fragile even the best success stories can be. But there is another part to this. Two months after deciding to stay she randomly met a young man she knew as a child from her village. They fell in love and were married, a “love marriage” as it is called in her country where most marriages are arranged. So this survivor now has the kind of future to be normal, have a family, a job, and a happy life that is the right of all people. I believe her children and her community will be at much lower risk of slavery as well.
Thank you John - It would be great if you could include some of this information on your impact back into your entry form.
I am one of those people that don't know much about human trafficking and reading about your project I am thinking it makes a lot of sense to try and help them reintegrate in the society.
Is your work mostly or entirely in the communities where these people live? Do you actually send your volunteers there to help?
Yes, and thank you for asking. We work where the survivors are, so thats means red light districts, border towns, etc. We do send volunteers to work with us and our partners. The opportunity does depend a lot on what you can do and how long you can stay. Some places and roles we would only send a volunteer if they can stay for six months. But we also have shorter, two week group volunteer trips that we run as well.
Thank you for responding.
The story about the young lady that wanted to pay money to somebody to send her to Middle east to be a maid, after she has been abused for years... it's so sad.
Like I said before, I am one of those people that almost can't believe that things like this are happening in the world nowadays. That's why I am thinking that many of the organizations that are trying to help these people, should incorporate in their regular activities a working side that has to do with build awareness among people in all possible countries. If everybody knows about it, it would not be as easy for the perpetrators to continue doing these horrible things.
I think your organization is doing a great job on both sides of building capacity in the survivors communities and educating people here in the U.S. about the existence of such things.
Thank you for the important work you do. I live in Portland, OR and work with a local non-profit in the arena of sexual assault advocacy. A couple years ago I attended a training for our crisis line volunteers where a local human trafficking advocacy organization gave a presentation on human trafficking in Portland. I was very surprised to find out how prevalent it is in Portland. The advocates also spoke of how difficult and dangerous their work was because of feared retribution from the captors. Do you find this in your work within the U.S?
Portland State University, Current Student
Its the folks who do rescue work and operate the shelters that seem to be in the most danger for retribution. So fortunately this is not a problem for us - we just face the risks any traveler would have working in these locations.
I have a great OR story - I was at a conference on human trafficking about two years ago where I found myself talking to a vice cop from OR. He was really out of place at this conference which was mostly US NGOs with a huge group from Catholic Charities and Salvation Army.
So I asked this man why a vice cop was at a conference like this. He told be he had been doing vice work for almost 20 years and had only just recently learned about human trafficking. He told me that in learning about it, he realized that he personally had probably caught, and arrested at least 20 victims of human trafficking, probably more. And of course he released these women back to the traffickers. To him they were just prostitutes and he was completely unaware that they could also be slaves, let alone that they had rights of a victim not a criminal. He was at the conference to learn as much as he could so that others in his department would have the proper training to recognize and help trafficking victims.
You have an intersting and very relevant initiative going on. Good wishes for the future.
I have a question for you:
What differences do you find in the conditions (physical, social & mental) of the target group associated with your work in developed and developing countries?
I should preface my answer by pointing out that there can be a wide range of results for rehabilitation of survivors. Because our program is about longer term employment, we work mostly with high functioning survivors. Some of the shelters we work with have women that are severely scarred, both physically and emotionally. I cant really speak well about that group.
With the group we work with we find remarkable similarities across countries and cultures. There are areas we work where you almost never see women working at all, let alone survivors, but women from those areas have the same core work ethic and personality as any western women. We see a lot of common things like delayed emotional development (they can be 25 but dealing for the first time with issues the way teenagers would). They are often an interesting mix of being very tough and street savy, but also much younger and more emotionally immature then non survivors of the same age.
All in all I am constantly impressed at how resilient human beings can be, at least to their young adulthood.
Does that answer your question at all?
Your understanding of the scenario is commedable. Also, the fact that you are working in one of the most difficult segments, makes your effort even more significant.
Good wishes for the future
In some of the comments I made above I mentioned circus trafficking. Esther Benjamins Trust just put up this great video showing a raid on a circus.
I think you are closing a gap here that many NGOs and Social Entrepreneurs face, since I see a lot of initiatives on Changemakers who have a great idea and show a lot of intiative, but lack the entrepreneurial skills to work it properly. Also, economic alternatives for slavery survivors seem one of the most important elements of a sustainable strategy. What I don´t quite get right now is how you generate income. You help other people towards financial and organizational sustainability, but where does your money come from? Donations? Governments? Percentages from what your customers produce?
All the best for your work,
Free University Berlin
Thanks for your comments and support. We generate income in the same way a traditional Fair Trade distributer does in that we mark up the products before we sell them to stores or customers.
The merger of social and financial responsibility seems complete with this great initiative and clear website. It may seem like a simple observation, but too many initiatives get bogged down in their own weight and then their websites may be overwhelming with information. Your website strikes a perfect balance of information, clearly presented, and then the opportunity to help immediately either by purchasing or getting involved via volunteering or following the links.
When deciding what products you will offer for sale, do you focus on what the communities are already familiar with or do you introduce new designs/products?
Portland State University, Master of International Management, current student
Thanks Brad for you nice comments. Im glad you think the website works. We still do all that in house and I dont think our web design skills are any good at all, so its nice to know we at least have the content right. We are in the middle of a content rethink and are redoing almost every section to have some kind of positive story and call to action, but other than that will keep the current structure.
Good question about products. There is a mixture of both working with what is already familiar and introducing new designs. While there are many times that an local product will be great for the western market, we have to be very careful to avoid what we call the "Carved Giraffe Fallacy". This is a mistake we see groups make all the time. The false logic of the fallacy is "hey - tourists buy this carved giraffe we make, that must mean westerners like it and we can make a business out of selling it in the US!" . That almost never works. You have to sell what people want to buy even when its linked to a good cause. You also sell more when people look at their friend and ask "hey - where did you get that cool X? - Oh this, its Made By Survivors...."
We sometimes start by buying something with a local design that we dont think will sell all that well - but we do it to establish trust with the group. But we always try to move towards designs that sell well in the west - those designs can be inspired by local designs, but not limited by local designs. We support groups that exists to preserve local artisanship, but that is not our primary mission.
i am more than inspired with what you all are doing!
and wanted to touch base with you to see if you are still in need of jewelry designers to partner with your exsisting program? and if so, in which countries are the women making the jewlery as their source of income?
thanks so much for what you do!
Im sorry that I did not get back to you earlier and will reply via email. We are certianly in need of jewerly designer/trainers as well as tailors, (general sewing also), bag designers, english teachers and many other skills - most of which we have up on our website http://www.madebysurvivors.com/
The best jewerly we have now comes from Thailand - in fact one of those parters Rahab is in this competiton. The area where we need the most help is India.
What better way to fight human trafficking and slavery than to go to the root of the problem: poverty. This is the most innovative way to end slavery that I've seen. Not only does it help survivors, it also prevents slavery by involving those at high risk. This is a amazing idea, thank you for making a difference!
Best wishes to everyone at The Emancipation Network, and keep up the great work. Now, off the spread the word about voting for you!
Hello and HUGE CONGRATS! Your work is so crucial and also highly innovative, definitely a winning combination! The focus on handmade arts and crafts serves so many purposes, including adding beauty and creativity to the world, surely something we all need, especially in these challenging and sometimes disheartening times.
The links between skills-building; income-generation; helping women to create a better life for themselves, their families, and communities; the making of a beautiful product that can be enjoyed by many people around the globe; support for fair trade; improvements in health, education, and opportunity; and the concurrent effects all of that will have on trafficking, make this project a necessity for women the world over.
My apologies for being out of touch for some time (due to family health issues and my own caregiving), but I hope I might be more helpful now. In particular, I can still help to network for you in Africa. And I see that you mention needing help in India.
As it turns out, there is an organization very near and dear to me located in Jaipur, that is very interested in your work. They do produce handcrafts already, and address issues related to trafficking, sex work, health, education, and income-generation.
I will be happy to introduce you! They are linked to other orgs, and there are other connections I and we can hopefully help to make there for you.
Thanks again for this inspiring and vital project, and very best wishes and appreciation always, Janet (Feldman, email@example.com)
I want to thank you all for your kind comments. I also want to thank Changemakers for putting on the great competition. We are very impressed by the other applicants and finalists.
If we are fortunate enough to win, we have decided to spend the entire $5000 on our new Destiny program, specifically on sewing machines and wages for the survivors. You can learn more about the Destiny program here, http://www.madebysurvivors.com/destiny
In short, the Destiny program is a new production for survivors and at risk women in Calcutta that we have set up in partnership with TEN Charities and four NGO partners in Calcutta. Here is a video of the first few women on their first day at work: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8889388793055158194
Thanks again for all your support
For two years I worked in India helping coordinate the US Government's efforts to fight human trafficking and I have seen a lot of projects around the world. I think the work of the Emancipation Network is a critical part of the solution to end slavery.
Founder, Atlas Corps
I have seen people that have gone to do work for TEN in India and come back different people....You cannot see these girls and women and not have your heart changed forever!!
Thank you TEN!!!!!
with love and admiration,
I am glad that I had an opportunity to read more about some of your (your organization's) work. The more I read the more I realized that I could be a greater participator once I retire (not that long away). I have lived in India for 18 months; 9 months in Ganeshpuri in Maharastra State at the ashram (Gurudev Siddha Peeth) of my spiritual teacher (Gurumayi Chidvilasananda) and 9 months in Kolkata working with Mother Therese. I'd like to be kept apprised of the efforts of your group.
I wish you continued grace to reach your goals.
Jan Lalleshwari Mattimoe
John and team,
It has been enormously inspiring to see your work deepen and expand over the last several years. I think your "insight addressed", "Increasing community resilience" is spot on, and should be something that both men and women can pursue together as a necessary goal toward community health and prosperity. I hope your programs will be able to expand to include income replacement programs for men and thus incentive to get them out of the 'trade in bodies.'
Best of luck, to you and the other great people and individuals here working on behalf of trafficked women and children.
On July 16, 2008, the judges reviewed the entries for the Changemakers “Ending Global Slavery” Competition and would like to pass on the following feedback for your entry. Thank you for applying and for your hard work in the field. We are excited to archive your entry to serve as a leading solution for the worldwide community of innovators who are exposing, confronting and ending modern day slavery. We wish you continued luck with your sustainable, innovative, and socially impactful initiatives.
All the best, The Changemakers Team
“This initiative provides economic alternatives and education to people in high-risk communities. It is a fantastic brand backed by a very strong business model and marketing plan. The organization has been quite successful selling ‘Made by Survivor’ products in many places, ranging from local communities to international organizations, including the World Bank. We would encourage a partnership with stop.traffick in Cambodia.”
“We are interested in learning more about how the initiative measures impact, particularly the number of people who not only attend awareness events, but also get involved in the abolition movement through word-of-mouth. The initiative’s programs are a brilliant way to spread knowledge about modern-day slavery to a global audience and expand the network of activists.”
- Changemakers “Ending Global Slavery” Judges: United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Trafficking, International Organization for Migration, Design Within Reach, Vital Voices Global Partnership, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Humanity United.
The Changemakers Team
Thank you for your comments and your support.
We are working on a program to improve the metrics we use to demonstrate and evaluate our impact, and are working with a foundation to test and measure our ability to recruit abolitionists. So I hope we will be publishing more about this when the study is completed, which should be in the nex 18 months.
I appreciate this is really good work!