Today, it’s estimated that there are as many as 27 million slaves worldwide, more than at the height of the transatlantic slave trade, and many of them are right here in the U.S. Incidences of sex and labor trafficking have been reported in all 50 states, with children as young as 12 being commercially sexually exploited in our own communities.
The mtvU Against Our Will campaign is helping raise wider awareness of the issue and inspire action, amplifying efforts by college students to end this exploitation in our country.
The campaign website at againstourwill.org provides comprehensive information on the subject, outlining the many ways students can help, such as raising awareness, decreasing demand for goods and services provided by trafficking victims, joining or starting a student group, supporting organizations that are fighting human trafficking, encouraging their schools to adopt curricula devoted to the subject and reporting situations where they suspect human trafficking is happening.
Against Our Will also uses a powerful interactive video experience to dramatize the issues. “The Backstory,” at thebackstory.mtv.com, draws users in as they become a central character in the storyline. The experience begins as the user selects from a number of provocative ads, and then learns the painful stories behind those seemingly innocuous posts. Soon they find out how someone they know could become a victim of human trafficking. The experience is further intensified when users connect to their Facebook accounts and see a more personalized storyline unfold. Along the way, users are given easy ways to take action to help end modern-day slavery in their own communities.
Over 30,000 people have experienced “The Backstory,” just a portion of the countless people who have been made aware of the scourge of human trafficking through Against Our Will and the efforts of its partners, Free the Slaves, GEMS and Polaris Project.
“[mtvU] has ensured that survivor voices and survivor experiences are at the forefront, and that survivors aren’t just presented in a way that is just about their trauma and their painful experiences, but their strength and their talent, their poetry, their creativeness, their abilities, where they’re at now, being in college. That kind of stuff has been a really, really critical piece of [Against Our Will], and I think it’s been a lot of what has made this so successful.”
Rachel Lloyd, Founder & Executive Director, Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS)