How to end human trafficking: Lessons from the front line

April 26, 2023

One year ago, Blue Dragon hosted a webinar announcing a clear vision to end human trafficking in Vietnam in ten years. 

Since then, calls for help have shown no sign of slowing down. In fact, they have massively increased over the last few years. 

“That doesn’t deter us at all. If anything, it just reaffirms our belief that we have to get on top of this,” said Blue Dragon founder Michael Brosowski. 

And so, 1 year later, Blue Dragon hosted a second webinar on April 12 and 13 to talk about the progress that has been made since then. 

Three anti-trafficking experts – program manager Thuy Nguyen, Research and Learning Leader Caitlin Wyndham, and Strategic Director Michael Brosowski – discussed the complexity and changes of the the current landscape of human trafficking, the models that are proving effective, and why they are now more sure than ever that it really is possible to end human trafficking forever. 

The Changing Landscape of Covid

Since 2019, the global economic slowdown during Covid combined with a new fence on the border between China and Vietnam has created a perfect storm of vulnerability for people who were already poor. 

Since then, the number of victims of trafficking assisted by Blue Dragon has increased across all demographics. So has the number of countries they are being trafficked to.

webinar chart

webinar chart

“Covid has significantly changed the landscape of human trafficking in Vietnam – both internally in terms of who is being trafficked, as well as externally in terms of where they are being trafficked, and for what reason” Caitlin explained. 

Before Covid, nearly all of Blue Dragon’s rescue operations were Vietnamese women and girls trafficked into forced marriages in China. Since Covid, there has been a big increase in men and boys being trafficked into forced labour in Cambodia and women and girls trafficked into brothels in Myanmar. 

The Solution

The webinar panellists presented one solution that’s been working: a strategy called “integrated clustering.” 

Blue Dragon uses a “cluster” of activities that addresses all the causes of human trafficking in a particular area. These activities are tailored to local needs and implemented by local authorities and community partners wherever possible. 

Instead of a single solution – like a scholarship, a shelter, a girls’ education campaign – Blue Dragon has found it much more effective to take a multi-pronged approach. 

“Those are all good things,” Michael says of those single solutions, “but as standalone activities they’re not going to make a substantial impact on the prevalence of human trafficking. But together, as an integrated cluster of activities, all of those actions might be very powerful.” 

The Road Ahead

The real proof is in the data, and an important part of Blue Dragon’s work is documenting impact to measure success. Caitlin and Thuy both shared stories and data that show individuals and communities becoming more resilient to trafficking. 

“The results have been impressive,” Thuy said, “These results show how the government is taking the lead in protecting local communities from trafficking. I’m confident that this approach is effective, and that our government partners will continue the work, and expand to even more areas.” 

The panel took questions after the presentation, and many participants asked about how to get involved. There are lots of different ways to contribute. “Think about your own ‘integrated cluster,’” Michael urged. Schools, businesses, NGOs, and individuals all have a role to play.

If you were unable to make the webinar, you can still receive a copy of the video recording. Email info@bdcf.org for a copy. 

To learn more about how to get involved, sign up for Blue Dragon’s newsletter. There’s always a way to help, and the Blue Dragon newsletter is the best way to stay up to date about what’s needed right now in the fight against human trafficking. 

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