Written by Sana Pirzada, STOP THE TRAFFIK Volunteer
All crimes are detestable, but the crime of human trafficking is a repugnant one, and one that pains me the most. I am particularly affected by the sex trafficking of innocent women and children, and child labour. These crimes are emotionally shattering even to hear about: let alone to witness firsthand. I have read several books by survivors of human trafficking, seen many documentaries on the issue, and watched fictionalized TV dramas and movies on the topic as well. It is heartbreaking, and even more so when one realises this is a crime taking place under our noses, yet one we rarely hear about in our daily lives. We are so engrossed in our routines we can be oblivious to the intricacies of this heinous crime or what the victims may be going through physically and psychologically.
Unfortunately, popular media rarely highlights any news pertaining to trafficking on the front page, which is what most people read. Moreover, it is horrifying to see that in some countries, authorities are in league with traffickers. It’s clear that more could be done to implement a tougher stance on anti-trafficking legislation globally. My passion for ending human trafficking prompted my interest in prevention and helping those vulnerable to trafficking. Through volunteering with STOP THE TRAFFIK (STT)’s Aman Safety Project, I finally got the opportunity to do so.
I have been following STT since its inception in 2005. I specialized in Criminology and Political Science for my Masters at the London School of Economics and wrote my dissertation on the extent to which international criminal law had tackled the issue of human trafficking. I always found valuable information on STT’s website and have aimed to do some volunteering work for the organization since that time. When I saw STT’s Instagram post about seeking an Urdu volunteer I wasted no time in sending my CV across. I’m really thankful to the Aman Safety team for giving me this remarkable opportunity. Over the years, I have seen social media posts shared by STT about the various projects/campaigns that they have run, so I know how hard the organisation has worked to bring awareness to the public about the crime of trafficking, as well as ways in which they practically assist victims.
I have really enjoyed working for STT, firstly because it is a noble cause. I am not just conducting awareness sessions or talking about a crime which is what I usually do as a legal academic. As part of the Aman Safety Project, I have been directly involved in the process of helping those vulnerable to, or living in exploitation. My assistance may have had a positive impact on these people directly, and may have provided valuable information or advice as to what rights are they entitled to, how can trafficking be identified, tips on seeking help, and details of which organisations to contact.
I have learned a lot about the reality of human trafficking. Books and the news can only teach you so much, and my time volunteering with the Aman Safety campaign has enabled me to more directly understand the different methods of manipulation traffickers use to entrap victims, as well as the various behaviours/signals to watch out for, and how to better identify human trafficking.
I have seen firsthand what goes into an STT campaign. They contain a lot of useful information, including questions to ascertain what victims of trafficking have gone through. The campaigns ultimately give people a chance to ask themselves questions and take action to narrate their own stories, as well as seeking assistance where necessary.
Volunteering at STT has been a very fruitful experience for me. Not only has it has given me a chance to be more directly a part of the fight against human trafficking, but I have also learned about victims from my own country of Pakistan and how they are trapped in countries such as Greece and Turkey. It gives me satisfaction that in my own capacity I have provided some assistance to these victims, and I hope that my words will be of some solace to them. It has been great to translate materials and messages into Urdu as well as to record audio clips for those who may struggle with literacy and/or visual impairment. I will be happy to assist STT in the future should they require my services.