The Salvation Army wants South Africans to oppose human trafficking by participating in its “Cut It Out” campaign against sexual services advertisements in newspapers.
The idea of the campaign, in which members of the public will cut sleazy sex industry ads out of newspapers and send them to the respective editors, is to put pressure on the newspapers to stop advertising businesses that may be fronts for criminal networks involved in human trafficking.
Major Margie Stafford, Coordinator of The Salvation Army Anti-Human Trafficking board got the campaign going last week by posting cut-outs to The Star newspaper, together with an accompanying letter in which she urged the editor, Makhudu Sefara, to exercise moral responsibility by choosing to stop publishing sexual service advertisements.
“We seek your assistance to put an end to modern day slavery by ‘cutting out’ these types of adverts,” she says in the letter.
Stafford said the message of the Cut It Out campaign has been sent out via various networks but that the main launch will be at services at the Easter Weekend.
Although the campaign has not yet started in earnest, Sweat (Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce), an organisation that promotes the rights of ‘sex workers’, has already got wind of the campaign and has formally objected to it in an email to the Salvation Army. Sweat says in its email that it is also opposed to trafficking and exploitation of minors and would like to engage with the Salvation Army on the matter. It says it plans to issue a press statement about the Cut It Out campaign tomorrow.
Stafford said this evening that the Salvation Army was drafting a response to Sweat. She said the two organisations have different approaches to the sex workers “who we want to see saved and whole and whom they want to be allowed to be sex workers whether coerced, willing or forced”.
Human trafficking is a $32billion rand per annum global industry and trafficking of adults and children for sex is widespread in South Africa.
Advertising establishments such as massage parlours, saunas and escort agencies in the media can fuel the sex industry whichmay result in people being trafficked to fill the vacancies required by these establishments, said Stafford.
Her view is shared by the SCD9 Human Exploitation and Organised Crime unit at New Scotland Yard which in a statement dated November 25, 2010, says:
“It is clear (from our investigations) that advertising in newspapers can play a key role in facilitating the exploitation of trafficked victims. The adverts in question often purport to be massage parlours, saunas or escort agencies, but are in reality a front for criminal networks to advertise trafficked victims for sexual services. Consequently it is vital that we tackle this area as part of our overarching strategy to reduce trafficking in London”.
From Canada, thestar.com reports that Toronto’s powerful executive committee is pondering whether to yank city advertising from publications the carry escort ads. The committee has asked staff to report back in July on the idea, seen as a tangible way for the city to join the war on human trafficking.
The Salvation Army has provided the following instructions on how to participate in the “Cut It Out” campaign:
- Look through newspapers and cut out advertisements (usually found in the Classified Section) for services related to the sex industry.
- Paste as many of these as can fit on the page that has been provided. The more pages you can fill, the better.
- Write down the name of the newspaper and the date it was published in the space provided at the bottom of the page.
- Edit the letter to the editor template that has been provided. You’ll need to add information wherever [square brackets] are indicated.
- Find the postal address for the Editor in the newspaper. This information is usually located on page 1 or 2.
- Post the completed letter to the editor together with the pasted adverts from that specific newspaper to the editor.
- Tell us what you did in one of the following ways:
- Email Major Margie Stafford on Margaret_Stafford@saf.salvationarmy.org
- Phone Major Stafford on 082 455 3664
- Put it on our Facebook Page “The Salvation Army Anti-Human Trafficking SA” https://www.facebook.com/groups/Salvationarmyahtsa/?ref=ts&fref=ts
Stafford said that the letter template referred to in the instructions will be posted on the Salvation Army website.