If there is one thing we have learned in the last year, it is that human trafficking does not stop during a pandemic. The concurrence of the increased number of individuals at risk, traffickers’ ability to capitalize on competing crises, and the diversion of resources to pandemic response efforts has resulted in an ideal environment for human trafficking to flourish and evolve. Yet, despite the added challenges and risks that the pandemic has presented, we have also witnessed the adaptability among those continuing to combat human trafficking and their dedication to ensuring the continuation of anti-trafficking efforts to minimize the effects of the pandemic on victims and the broader anti-trafficking community. This year, the TIP Report introduction examines the emerging trends, challenges, and adaptations to global anti-trafficking efforts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With this year’s Report we celebrate the efforts of anti-trafficking professionals who continued to serve and identify victims as well as prosecute traffickers amidst the pandemic’s devastating effects on the world’s most vulnerable populations. We salute the survivor leaders––those with lived experience of human trafficking––who have demonstrated resilience and reaffirm that employing trauma- and survivor-informed approaches is essential, crisis or not. While acknowledging these leaders, we recognize that many of us have also been touched by trauma, whether through loss of a loved one, our own illness, or dealing with large-scale lockdowns and extreme uncertainty. A trauma-informed approach is needed now more than ever. We must ensure that our commitment to victim-centered and trauma- and survivor-informed approaches when serving victims and survivors is uninterrupted. We must also extend this approach to our interactions with our colleagues throughout the anti-trafficking field.
While hopeful that we’re turning the corner on the pandemic, we know that different countries are at different stages in their pandemic response and recovery. We call on governments and anti-trafficking actors to draw inspiration from the innovation and leadership this Report highlights to continue and improve the response to combat trafficking even amidst the necessary recovery efforts. We should also consider the lessons learned over the course of this global health crisis. It is through collaboration and collective understanding of both the nuances of our profoundly changed world and the needs of those affected most by the compounding effects of both human trafficking and the COVID-19 pandemic that a path forward emerges.
I look forward to once again engaging in-person with government counterparts, NGO representatives, and individuals with lived experience to continue the two decades of progress that was celebrated and recognized last year in the twentieth TIP Report. Through collaboration, learning, and embracing innovation, I am confident that global anti-trafficking efforts will emerge stronger than ever.
Read or download full report here.