First published in Microsoft TechNet
Human trafficking is a complex phenomenon that ensnares numerous countries, and it is fast-evolving as traffickers are increasingly taking to the Internet to lure victims. But the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Microsoft are determined to use technology to beat the traffickers at their own game.
IOM X is IOM’s campaign to encourage safe migration and public action to stop exploitation and human trafficking. Together with Microsoft, IOM X has been working on awareness campaigns around the Southeast Asian region. Their most recent effort was in Singapore, together with local community-based organisation Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME), and supported by the United States embassy and United States government agency for administering civilian foreign aid USAID.
Here are the ways where IOM X, HOME and Microsoft are using technology to tackle trafficking.
Public education app
IOM X and Microsoft Singapore launched an ‘IOM X Learn, Act and Share’ quiz app for public education, as well as to uncover attitudes and knowledge about the issue in Singapore.
During the launch, local tertiary students took to the streets to poll 100 people. Only half of the respondents could identify a potential victim of human trafficking, and the majority underestimated the gravity of the global issue.
IOM X Program Leader Tara Dermott said it has enabled IOM X to “gain quick insights into the public’s understanding of the issue, and this information will help us to design better activities and messages that are relevant to the rest of the ASEAN community”.
Using social media to share information on rights and support services
HOME uses Facebook to disseminate information about workers’ rights and support services. HOME executive director Jolovan Wham observed that trafficking victims and exploited migrant workers, who used to be “socially isolated and lacking in support networks”, are now able to reach out for help.
The information campaigns have helped the workers and the wider public to become more attuned to what constitutes exploitation, and the mechanisms for reporting violations.
Crowdsourcing support for trafficked victims
IOM X and Microsoft have launched 6Degree.org, the world’s first crowdfunding portal to fund the return and sustainable reintegration of trafficking victims.
The newly-launched portal currently features only survivors from and in Asia Pacific.
At a media event to discuss the IOM X-Microsoft collaborations, John Cann, Managing Director, International Organizations, Microsoft Asia Public Sector, said, “We now need to think about a technology angle whenever we are embarking on prevention, prosecution, and protection—the three ‘P’s in the fight against human trafficking.”
For more information on human trafficking and exploitation, and how to encourage safe migration, visit https://www.iom.int/iom-x
Aude Breteau is the Marketing Communications Group and Community Affairs Lead, Microsoft Singapore