Academics and front-line not-for-profits committed to stamping out human trafficking seem to be embroiled in a inter-dependent relationship that is mutually conflicting and supportive.
Front-line not-for-profits (NFP) groan when their efforts are publicly criticized in the media and in academic papers. It sometimes costs them precious support both theoretical and financial. The old adage 'it is easier to criticize than create' seems highly appropriate and yet, those same not-for-profits need the voice of the media to create awareness and study findings provided by academics help support their grant applications and help answer difficult questions and requests for evidence from potential funders.
In turn, academics who have devoted themselves to careful study of the issues watch in dismay as well-meaning but ill-informed groups launch themselves into providing 'aid' without a basic understanding of the issue or a careful critique of best practices. Academics provide an excellent resource for much needed evaluation that any responsible organization should not only welcome, but seek out.
And what happens when the statistics that NFPs rely on are called into question? For example, the world watches for the release of the US's TIP report each year. This year it has come under immense and seemingly well-deserved attack. NFPs watch in dismay as supporters turn their backs and funding dries up when there's a sudden shift in public perception that a very real problem may not exist or be grossly exaggerated.
We seem to all agree that there are millions of people being exploited. How many exactly, no one knows. We also all seem to agree that people should not be bought and sold and treated without dignity. So the question is...how can we work together to help? Are we doing a good job? Do we keep on fighting the good fight? Are there changes we can make to our approach that would benefit the movement?
Below are some links to recent related articles:
CORRUPTION STILL TAINTING THE TIP REPORT? - JULY 8, 2016
DEBASING THE US TIP REPORT - JULY 14, 2015
HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN AFRICA: STATISTIC NIGHTMARE - JULY 16, 2015