The Role of Media-Based Interventions in Combating Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia
ABSTRACT During the past 10 years there has been increasing scholarship in the field of human trafficking. This research has generally been 'reactive' and has focused on the reasons why people are trafficked or the migratory patterns of people from rural communities to urban environments. Although the breadth of scholarship is expanding there are clear research holes when it comes to evaluating the success and effectiveness of interventions associated with human trafficking. These intervention strategies are increasingly depending on media as a tool for educating and informing 'at-risk' communities about human trafficking. For example, in 2005, UNESCO, in conjunction with anti-trafficking organisations in Thailand, implemented a campaign aimed at using radio soap operas in tribal languages. The project used the real life testimonies of trafficking victims. The pilot project has now expanded to include more than five tribal languages across five countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region. These creative media-based responses are increasingly seen by advocates as a crucial tool in implementing preventative strategies for human trafficking. Although the use of documentaries, soap operas and other creative means in community development work is not new, the use of these strategies in the field of human trafficking studies is new and highly significant. This research, which has been compiled during extensive fieldwork in Thailand for the past seven years will: 半Identify two case studies of media-based interventions that are being used to counter human trafficking. 半Examine the strategy and rationale behind the introduction of media-based interventions as a tool for countering human trafficking. 半Evaluate the effectiveness of the soap opera intervention in terms of educating source communities of human trafficking. This research has involved more than 100 interviews with the workers of non-government organisations and government bodies, the victims of trafficking and village leaders in source communities in Thailand. The research has been conducted in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Nan, Phayao and Tak provinces and most recently was compiled while I completed a two-year community development project funded by AusAID.
International and Development Communication