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MTV expands human trafficking awareness campaign

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 7th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The popular MTV channel is addressing the issue of human trafficking, via social media, with a concentrated effort to raise awareness about the issue. The channel is participating in an escalating global fight against an industry that employs more slaves today than ever existed at any other time in history.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The MTV channel is a veteran in the fight against human trafficking, having run a campaign called MTVExit for the last decade. That campaign has included concerts, documentaries, and music videos. Now the channel is using Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness among followers.

The MTV channel has recruited an international band of youth to assist in getting the message out. Many come from Southeast Asia where human trafficking is a major problem and in addition to targeting American audiences, audiences in Southeast Asia are also being aggressively targeted.

Indonesia has one of the world's largest and most active social media communities outside of the U.S. with more than 70 million users combined, so it makes sense to recruit, and promote the cause in that region. Indonesia is also a hotbed of activity in human trafficking.

However, critics say social media campaigns have limited reach, despite the millions , or rather billions of people connected online. The problem is one of economics. Those most likely to form the first link in the human trafficking chain, for example parents who sell their children, or the victims themselves, are also the least likely to be connected to a social network. Many victims come from rural communities without electricity.

This is true throughout the world.

However, proponents counter that those most likely to facilitate trafficking, including potential customers, are networked and can be reached. Many people still do not realize the gravity of the problem and willfully ignore the logical likelihood that the people they are abusing are victims forced into the act, rather than voluntary participants.

Despite these realities, most of the people who participate in political processes in all countries tend to be networked. It is here that the greatest untapped reservoir of political will resides. If public awareness about the magnitude and severity of the problem is sufficiently raised, then perhaps politicians will take notice of what their constituents say and address the problem in a meaningful way.

Unfortunately, the great pandemic of human trafficking is only growing. Profits in buying and selling other human beings are higher than ever, creating a tremendous incentive to deal in the trade. Virtually every person in the world, particularly in the industrialized world, is a recipient of some product brought about in part by slavery.

For example, large quantities of the cocoa harvested for chocolate in Africa is gathered by human slaves. That means when you consume chocolate, you may, in some part, be financing illicit trade.

And the trade happens in the industrialized world as well. Even in the United States, many prostitutes, including children, are actually brutalized victims.

However, just as campaigns to educate the public about "blood diamonds" in the last decade were successful in educating the public about the horrors of the African diamond trade, so it is hoped that awareness campaigns about human trafficking will help promote change in the world of modern slavery.

The MTV Channel is undertaking a major effort to do its part and it is hoped the issue will catch on with the youth, and incite them to activism. For it is with these youth that the hope for a better tomorrow resides.

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