News / Asia

MTV Takes on Human Trafficking

MTV logo.
MTV logo.
Sara Schonhardt
The American-based cable and satellite channel MTV is training young people in Southeast Asia to use social media to raise awareness about human trafficking.  It is part of a global campaign to end the practice and event organizers and participants say social media amplifies the message. But critics of such campaigns say they have their limitations.

Raising Awareness

MTV has been working to raise awareness about human trafficking for nearly a decade through concerts, television documentaries and music videos. Now, it is through a campaign known as MTVExit, it is putting on awareness-raising concerts around the world and training youths how to use Facebook, Twitter and other online platforms to spread the fight against human trafficking.

Last week, 25 young people from around Southeast Asia participated in a four-day workshop where they learned how to link their offline activism to the Internet, increase their number of followers and craft messages about human trafficking to appeal to new audiences.

Putri Damayanti is a youth ambassador from Indonesia, campaigning for MTVExit. “To solve problems you have to make people aware about that issue first, so they will, like, care about these issues and also spread the idea that you could contribute," she said. "And also you could help to solve this problem by just a single click to change the world.”

She says social media is vital in Asia and believes it is the right medium through which to spread a message about human trafficking.

Appealing to youth

Indonesia has one of the world’s most active social media communities, with more than 70 million Facebook and Twitter users combined. People here frequently use social networking sites to advertise a message or campaign for a cause.

But some of MTV’s youth ambassadors come from countries or communities that are less plugged in.

One youth working for a refugee organization, Help Without Frontiers, along the Thai-Burma border said people there use Facebook, YouTube and Weblogs. But her group still relies on short documentaries and theater to reach target communities, mostly migrant workers who do not have much access to social media.

Critics of social media campaigns say this is one reason they often fail as an empowerment strategy for at risk groups in developing countries.

Author B.J. Mendelson,  who wrote the highly critical book "Social Media is Bullshit", explained, "What we’re talking about is trying to reach people who might not be as educated or might not have the latest Apple product that they’re using to access the Web. It’s entirely possible that they can reach people who are in need, I don’t dispute that. What I do dispute is that they can reach a lot of those people because of the socioeconomic issues that are in play.”

Human trafficking, a global problem

Human trafficking is widespread in Southeast Asia. All 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are either origin, transit or destination countries. More than half of the world’s 22 million trafficking victims come through the region.

Officials in ASEAN say they have worked to build member states’ criminal justice systems to go after and prosecute those involved in human trafficking. But they have also realized the need for more education and believe messages like those being spread through social media are one key way of raising awareness.

Khine Myat Chit, is a senior officer in ASEAN’s Security Cooperation Division. “The number of cases are not going down because it is a very high profit, low-cost and human trade, so that’s why we are expanding our focus to include the youth and the public, of course,” noted Chit.

On December 16th, Burma will host its first ever MTVExit concert, headlined by U.S. pop star Jason Mraz. In the run up, organizers are hoping to get one million people to share the mention #EXITslavery, which links to a video about human trafficking.

Spreading the message

On the campaign’s webpage it says all it takes is a click, a share or a post to support the campaign. But critics say online campaigns are often excessively ambitious and are not the proper tool for social organizing because Tweets tend to live online for only a short time.

Although social media can serve as a powerful tool to educate people and raise awareness, Mendelson worries that it has also made people complacent.

“It’s become incredibly difficult to actually get people to do more than click the like button.  And, it does curtail the possibility that an online campaign could be as successful as it could because people are now conditioned to just like things and we think that’s the extent of what we need to do to make something happen,” Mendelson stated.

Tara Dermott, the lead developer of MTVExit, says that is why tapping communities of traditional activists who are used to on-the-ground campaigning strengthens the network. “These youth are really focused on the fact that these actions are not supposed to stay online. It’s digital activism that’s really, really closely tied to on the ground action,” she said.

And, although it is difficult to determine whether online activism directly translates into offline action, many of MTVExit’s young ambassadors say it is a step in the right direction.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dana Steinbach from: Wichita, KS
December 07, 2012 8:42 AM
Why criticize such a powerful tool as social media? Like Tara Dermott said, it is just one more powerful weapon to be used in addition to work being done "on-the-ground'....Use whatever gets the word out and increases awareness and decreases ignorance and complacency.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid