Since 2004 the State Department has actively recognized incredible abolitionists around the world by naming annual classes of TIP Report Heroes. They are policymakers, lawyers, social workers, survivors, advocates, public personages, and various professionals. But they share one main characteristic: an unalterable and unflagging commitment to the ending of human trafficking around the world. Tweet it out at #BeAHero!
The Trafficking and Victims Protection Act of 2000 created a new office within the State Department dedicated to combating modern-day slavery. The J/TIP office, as it is called, is tasked with a variety of responsibilities that are tied to their mandate. One of those duties is to produce the TIP Report, a powerful document that ranks each country in the world according to their commitment to fighting human trafficking. In the language from the statute, countries are placed in tiers that correspond to their level of compliance with the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons.” The TIP Report is released every year in June.
June? Yes! It’s coming up. Every year the TIP Report gets more extensive, and every year it affirms its own utility. We had the opportunity to hear about a small example in December, when we visited Kristina Misiniene. Over black coffee, she told us about the duplicity of some politicians in her country. While feigning real concern, they often ignored the plight of actual, suffering survivors of human trafficking. In this context, a downgrade from Tier 1 to Tier 2, which occurred in 2013, was celebrated by members of civil society. The embarrassment alone required officials to begin to act.
As we come up on the release of the 2015 TIP Report release, this June, we want to celebrate the men and women who have been given the TIP Report Hero Award. More than celebrating their achievements, we want to inspire future heroes. Heroes are people who devote their lives, their time, their resources, and their thoughts, to the plight of those who enslaved around the world. There are so many ways to get involved in the anti-trafficking movement, and so many ways to help. For some ideas, head to the End Slavery Now Act page!
Who knows, we may even inspire someone who will win a future TIP Report Hero award. Here in the U.S., we inspire people by telling the stories of Levi Coffin, Harriet Tubman, or Reverend John Rankin. These were men and women who fought tirelessly to free people who were enslaved prior to the Civil War in the United States. Now, we celebrate freedom by telling the stories of their modern-day counterparts: Kristinia Misiniene, Susan Ople, Ansar Burney, Philip Hyldgaard, Anne Gallagher, and all of the other incredible activists and advocates who are TIP Report Heroes.
The stories we tell define the causes we care about. For the next couple weeks, let’s tell stories that celebrate freedom. Let’s tell stories that help us to understand the importance of this global fight against slavery. Let’s listen to the people who are hearing the stories of survivors, and the people who are helping them to heal. Above all, let us share these stories with others in hopes that we can inspire our world. That’s why we’ve started the #BeAHero campaign. We’re building towards the release of the 2015 TIP Report, a time of year that is crucial for countries and organizations around the world for forming policy, re-writing objectives, and determining priorities. The stories we tell have the power to determine those policies, write those objectives, and determine those priorities.
At www.tipheroes.org, we have hundreds of stories that prove the importance of our cause. Browse through the site, listen to the Heroes’ stories, explore their biographies, read about their resources, and share whatever you learn under the hashtag #BeAHero! Also, watch the TIP Report Global Heroes Network’s twitter page for inspiring stories and quotes about our freedom fighters!
Caleb Benadum is the Program Manager for the Trafficking in Persons Report Global Heroes Network, an upcoming web-based project planned for January 2015. He graduated from Capital University with a degree in Philosophy, and the University of Cincinnati Law School with a Juris Doctor degree. Having spent much of his life overseas, he is committed to modern-day abolitionism and the promotion of human rights around the world.
We don’t know the particular circumstances which were leading these women, men and children to embark on this perilous journey; but, we can be sure that they face huge risks once – or even if – they’ve made it to land.