Johannesburg Students Lauded for Anti-Human Trafficking Social Media Campaign

South Africa - IOM and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) held an awards ceremony last week (17/2) at the UJ campus to commend students’ work on a 2016 social media campaign to combat human trafficking.

As part of the campaign, 16 second-year Applied Strategic Communications students produced, directed and edited a photo shoot illustrating the conditions in which victims of human trafficking often find themselves, holding signs condemning human slavery.

The pictures were then used together with messages as part of a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter launched during Human Trafficking Awareness Week (3-7 October 2016).

Addressing the students at the awards ceremony, IOM South Africa Chief of Mission Richard Ots said: “The campaign which you directed, produced and crafted for us was a huge success. IOM is now sharing it with other missions as an example of an innovative way to raise public awareness of human trafficking.”

Professor Sonja Verwey, Head of UJ’s School of Communication, said: “The campaign forced them to confront themselves and see their role in the world. Communication is a social science and it’s our duty to teach students to deal with social issues like this.”

Globally human trafficking is believed to be the third most profitable illegal trade after drugs and weapons. Trafficking victims are often subjected to rape, torture, debt bondage, unlawful confinement and threats against their family or other people close to them, as well as other forms of violence.

According to the US State Department’s 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, South Africa is a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.  South Africans continue to constitute the largest number of victims of trafficking within the country, with large numbers of people being trafficked from poorer rural areas to wealthier urban areas.

The campaign’s posts reached over 36,000 people on Facebook and generated 21,000 impressions on Twitter during Human Trafficking Awareness Week.

For further information, please contact Lerate Tsebe at IOM South Africa, Tel: +27 12 342 2789, Email: