Ideal Victims in Trafficking Awareness Campaigns

  • Erin O’Brien
Part of the Critical Criminological Perspectives book series (CCRP)


Amidst a proliferation of bestseller books, blockbuster films, television documentaries and sensational news reports, public awareness campaigns have claimed their place in a growing chorus of concern about the crime of human trafficking. These campaigns aim to capture the public’s support in efforts to eliminate a ‘modern slave trade’ in which individuals seeking a better life are transported across borders and forced into exploitative labour conditions. Constrained by the limitations of primary campaign materials (posters, print ads, billboards) typically allowing for only a single image and minimal text, it is unlikely that these awareness campaigns can accurately convey the complexity of the trafficking problem. One anti-trafficking advocate tasked with constructing a clear, digestible message for the general public has indicated that these campaigns are, by necessity, reductive in their representation. ‘We try to come up with an anecdote that crystallizes the problem’ said the advocate. ‘I’m trying to find a way to boil it down to its most, in some ways emotional essence ...the heartening, the compelling story that makes people really understand the problem’ (Anti-trafficking activist, 2008, personal communication).


Sexual Exploitation Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign Male Victim Trafficking Victim 
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© Erin O’Brien 2013

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  • Erin O’Brien

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