The Relentless Re-exploitation of Survivors

It’s not a surprise that organizations working on the issue of human trafficking are in dire need of funding. But when that comes at the expense of the survivors you are claiming to help, there is a troubling disconnect. Another troubling aspect is that organizations want their name out there and in order to do that they must reveal the survivor and rework the story to benefit their advocacy and ability to fundraise. What was a story about a relationship gone very wrong turns into organized crime and international discourse. All of this is sprinkled with coaching on behalf of the organization to help the survivor say the right things to make them look good. All of this amounts to re-exploitation and re-victimization for the young woman who gets nothing out of it.

Let’s start by acknowledging that no organization or NGO can be a one stop shop for all survivors. It is literally impossible. But so many claim that they can only to fall short in so many areas. There isn’t one ‘Super Organization” or “Super NGO” that can do it all making it obsolete for any collaboration. And what about the survivor? She in the spotlight-15 minutes of fame in front of the camera, sometimes not realizing she’s being re-exploited. A image that’s worthy of a runway photo shoot complete with hair and makeup-or worse -a video. But at the end of all that, was it worth it? Her story laid bare with glaring inconsistencies, boasting empowerment and freedom with a new life and mended family ties. Even with all of that, the man or men that are accused of trafficking her are out there not yet caught and prosecuted. Where is her safety? They see her face and read the article and see that they are implicated in this crime. How is this okay?

Survivors deserve better and they deserve to be protected. The pettiness, cattiness and competitiveness of organizations needs to stop. There are no Oscars or Academy awards for best Founder, CEO or Executive Director of an organization or NGO. So why are they acting like they’re in Hollywood? It looks like another sequel to “Mean Girls”. It’s not a popularity contest. I would also like to point out that it’s not just women but men who “claim” to be helping survivors, whether they’ve started their own organization or are working for an existing one,  re-exploit and re-victimize survivors too. They also want to put themselves in the competitive arena that we call “Women’s Human Rights”. I guess there’s money to be made while being  a “good humanitarian” and “progressive male”.

There must be transparency not only with funding but with the well being and care giving of survivors. There are people out there who are giving and truly believe they are making a difference. They trust that the organization whom they are donating to is doing the right thing and getting these women and girls the best help possible. They don’t see what’s REALLY happening and the organizations make sure they don’t. We need to be asking the right questions we must demand safety and protection for survivors because if this doesn’t happen stopping human trafficking will be just as big of a business as human trafficking itself.




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