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Anti-Trafficking: Harming While Trying to Help

Since the early 2000s, SWAN Vancouver Society (SWAN) has mobilised against human trafficking.

We have worked hard to prevent trafficking. We have supported women who were trafficked. We have also supported women who were anti-trafficked, i.e. women negatively impacted by anti-trafficking enforcement and awareness campaigns. Through this work we’ve learned a few things about what makes an anti-trafficking action or campaign effective.

More and more people are learning about human trafficking and feel compelled to do something about it.

Unfortunately, this desire to take action is not always expressed in productive ways. Some campaigns are ineffective. Some campaigns are harmful, and actually increase vulnerability to human trafficking.

By raising awareness about the negative consequences of some anti-trafficking campaigns, SWAN hopes to reduce the harms associated with anti-trafficking interventions and channel this desire to help in more productive directions.

This project introduces the concept of ‘harming while trying to help’.

Outlining what harm looks like in anti-trafficking work, and offering alternatives to engage in ethical and responsible anti-trafficking campaigns, our video and companion guide support good intentions to become effective actions. Whether you’re a celebrity, a high-profile activist, a government official, or just a member of the general public who wants to make the world a better place, we invite you to reflect on the anti-trafficking work you engage in.

Watch our launch webinar.