Interaction: Fighting Ignorance Through Media

Interaction: Fighting Ignorance Through Media

Moldova
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Interaction pursues an ambitious public awareness campaign through creative advertisements throughout Transnistria, offering a free hotline, dispelling myths about foreign employment, and informing the public of traffickers' recruitment tactics.

About You
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Your idea
Sector Focus

Civil society

Year the initative began (yyyy)

2006

YouTube Upload

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Positioning of your initiative on the mosaic diagram
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Invisibility of problem

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Increase community resilience

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic

Interaction experiences a unique set of barriers because it is located in Transnistria, an unrecognized break-away republic within the internationally recognized borders of Moldova. The government operates autonomously and has systematically failed to acknowledge that human trafficking is a problem here.

Innovation
What is your signature innovation, your new idea, in one sentence?

Interaction pursues an ambitious public awareness campaign through creative advertisements throughout Transnistria, offering a free hotline, dispelling myths about foreign employment, and informing the public of traffickers' recruitment tactics.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

Interaction is the only organization in Transnistria, an area that staunchly denies the existence of human trafficking within its borders, that works toward the prevention of human trafficking and provides assistance to victims there. The program is unique in that it accepts responsibilities that would normally fall under the jurisdiction of the state, but which have been completely ignored by the Transnistrian government. Far from receiving any assistance within Transnistria, Interaction has continuously fought against human trafficking despite opposition and consistent persecution from within the region against the organization's leadership and members.

Bold advertisements and the establishment of a hotline represent an innovative movement in the traditionally Soviet, isolationist environment of a separatist region. Experience has shown that the intensity of the advertising campaign directly influences the number of preventive and emergency calls to the hotline.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing?

The most recent campaign focuses on raising awareness through media outlets such as commercials on television and in minibuses (where passengers become a captive audience) and trolley-bus sideboards. Interaction also uses billboards and radio advertisements, as well as brochures, flyers, and ongoing movie showings about the realities of human trafficking and exploitation. Volunteers hand out stickers and pocket calendars, along with information booklets.

How do you plan to grow your innovation?

The first commercials in mini-buses appeared the first week of June, 2008 as the most recent addition to Interaction's advertisement campaign. These advertisements continue to raise awareness in the community about the hotline and the dangers of trafficking. Ineraction also plans to increase the audience by conducting informational seminars for at-risk populations in schools throughout the region. Transnistrian youth volunteers lead these seminars. Interaction is also working to enhance and expand the program's website as a resource for the community and abroad.

Do you have any existing partnerships, and if so, how do you create them?

Although Interaction is the only organization in Transnistria working against human trafficking, it maintains close ties to other organizations such as the Moldovan office of the International Organization for Migration in Chisinau, OSCE, and Front Line, the international foundation for human rights defenders. Founder and director, Oxana Alistratova, has been instrumental in forging relationships with these groups, individually approaching directors and inviting them to contribute to efforts in Transnistria.
Within the advertisement campaign Interaction maintains contracts with the advertising agencies Exclusive, Travel Group, and Start Still. In addition, Interaction has developed and maintained unofficial relationships with three journalists who consistently promote the activities of Interaction through positive newspaper articles.

Impact
Provide one sentence describing your impact/intended impact.

This project seeks to involve Transnistrian mass media in informational campaigns to spread information to at-risk groups, influence public opinion, and push local authorities to support prevention work.

What are the main barriers to creating or achieving your impact?

The Transnistrian government is not recognized by the international community and as such inherently distrusts any organization receiving funding from abroad. Additionally, human trafficking is a political issue that the government has refused to acknowledge. Public opinion is plagued with skepticism about the true intentions of those who become trafficked and the public hastens to blame the victims, pointing to their gullibilty. Of repatriated victims, 80% are rejected by their families and 70% are shunned by society.

How many people have you served or plan to serve?

Interaction's advertising campaign aims to inform all of Transnistria (approximately 530,000 people) about the dangers of illegal immigration and human trafficking, and also about its free hotline available to anyone in the region.

Directly

From February to December of 2006, the first year of the hotline, Interaction received over 1,000 calls, 757 of which were preventive calls, and 239 of which were emergency (SOS) calls. During the course of the year, the number of calls to the hotline increased steadily in parallel with the intensity of the publicity campaign and the holding of seminars. There were 225 calls in November alone. The vast majority of hotline callers are from the at-risk population, between the ages of 18 and 29 years old.

Indirectly

This field has not been completed. (166 words or less)

Please list any other measures of the impact of your innovation?

This field has not been completed. (83 words or less)

Is there a policy intervention element to your innovation?

There are no laws preventing human trafficking or prostitution in Transnistria because potential victims are not seen by the government as an at-risk segment of the population. Currently, the Transnistrian government refuses to acknowledge that human trafficking is a major issue within its borders, and will not work with non-governmental organizations. Interaction offically reports all cases of trafficking directly to the police and the Ministry of Justice, in hopes that government leaders will take a more active role in preventing slavery. Currently, Interaction has permission to advertise the hotline and distribute information regarding trafficking, but any public demonstrations or movements to change legislation are forbidden.

Exactly who are the beneficiaries of your innovation?

The statistical data shows that victims of trafficking are most commonly women and children between the ages of 16 and 29. The form of exploitation most common from 2003 to 2006 was sexual (100 out of 110 cases registered in Transnistria, or 91% of the total). Approximately 10,000 people leave Transnistria yearly to work abroad, and experts estimate that up to 30% of these are victims of human trafficking. Therefore, Interaction's marketing campaign is directed towards young women in this age group, but informs about various forms of trafficking that include men and children. The hotline is available free of charge to anyone in Transnistria, and the seminars conducted by volunteers are focused on school-age youth.

Sustainability
How is your initiative financed (or how do you expect your initiative will be financed)?

Past donors have included CONTACT Centre, IOM, OSCE Mission to Moldova, the Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights Defenders, IREX-Moldova, the British Embassy in Moldova, and the United States Embassy in Moldova. Recent financial support has been limited because of Transnistrian government restrictions.

If known, provide information on your finances and organization

This field has not been completed. (166 words or less)

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

As mentioned before, Interaction is the only organization working in Transnistria for the prevention of human trafficking and treatment of its victims. Traffickers have routinely used classified ads in newspapers and flyers at bus stops for recruiting victims. Our studies show that this is still an effective method of recruitment, particularly as at-risk populations are drawn by the promises of a better life abroad with more work opportunities. Thousands could be saved from human trafficking every year if they only knew the reality of this criminal practice. No one else is informing the public of Transnistria about this issue.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

All funding for Interaction comes from donations outside of Transnistria. Therefore, the organization has the additional burden of pleading its cause to international donors, many of whom have never heard of Transnistria and know nothing about the situation here. Human trafficking is a largely under-reported problem everywhere, particularly in Transnistria, where Interaction and IOM have only recently begun efforts to shed light on the issue.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

Interaction was founded in 2002 with the goal of preventing violations of human rights in Transnistria, with a particular emphasis on the rights of women and children. It began with a grant of only $1,000 from CONTACT Centre, and since has expanded its staff and programs. Interaction recognized that one of its major obstacles was the invisibility of the problem of human trafficking in Transnistria. It set out to make the public more aware of the issue through an intensive media campaign throughout the region. The campaign has a new, energetic project manager who has initiated multiple new advertising methods, including the commercials in mini-buses and rotating billboards.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material

Oxana Alistratova, founder of Interaction, felt inspired to confront the issue of human trafficking within Transnistria, having narrowly escaped being sold into slavery herself for sexual exploitation. She had previously spent ten years working as a teacher in an elementary school and has a degree in psychology.
In her work as director of Interaction, Oxana has faced severe opposition from the Transnistrian government, which has consistently persecuted her and her family. Over the past six years, she has endured harrassing phone calls, detainment and interrogation of her and her ten year-old daughter, constant monitoring of her phone and email, damage to her home, and accusations that she is an enemy of the state. There is also an ever-present threat of retaliation from traffickers themselves.

Emphasis of Work

The main objectives of Interaction's anti-trafficking project are the prevention of this violation of human rights, broadly informing and shaping public opinion regarding the prevention of human trafficking and illegal migration; and the facilitation of the social reintegration of trafficking victims and their families. The project aims to:
1) Draw public attention to the problem of human trafficking in Transnistria;
2) Establish a toll-free hotline for the prevention of illegal migration and human trafficking;
3) Publish and distribute promotional products about the hotline's activity and printed materials about human trafficking and the dangers and potential consequences of illegal migration;
4) Involve active youth in voluntary activities and train them in organizing informational "peer to peer" seminars;
5) Provide assistance to the victims of human trafficking and their families to ensure their successful social reintegration.

Principles of our work:
- Individual approach and confidence
- Anonymity and privacy
- Reliable information
- Understanding and protection
- Collaboration with authorities (insofar as circumstances permit)