Peru's Clever Social Media Campaign Raises Awareness About Human Trafficking

“Ladies wanted, they must be young and good looking. We pay 1,500-2,000 Soles per week. Nice treatment.” lmage from Peruvian Ministry of Internal Affairs Twitter account, widely shared online.

The Peruvian Ministry of Internal Affairs honored National Prevention of Human Trafficking Day on September 23 with the launch of a campaign titled “Que no te encuentren” (Don't let them find you), aiming to counter human trafficking in Peru.

The concept involved the creation of a ‘fake’ job offer similar to baits used by criminal organizations to seduce young people. This youth-targeted strategy trended heavily on social networks and a statement from the Ministry of Interior explains:

La iniciativa […hizo uso de] avisos de trabajo en diversos diarios, así como afiches pegados en puntos públicos de [diversos] distritos de [Lima].

Durante cuatro días, 1.000 ciudadanos preguntaron sobre las ofertas laborales a través de mensajes de WhatsApp y llamadas telefónicas. Los avisos fueron publicados sin más información que “Se busca señorita” y “Se busca joven”, y con los montos de pago de entre S/1.500 y S/2.000.

Se convocó a 30 personas, [para ser entrevistadas] en un local que fungía de agencia de empleos […]. Policías mujeres vestidas de civil se hicieron pasar por entrevistadoras y les propusieron a los jóvenes viajar sin avisar a sus padres y dejando su DNI [documento nacional de identidad].

Veinticinco de ellos aceptaron la propuesta.

The initiative […used] job postings on diverse newspapers, as well as posters placed in public spots in [different] districts in [Lima].

For four days, a thousand individuals inquired about the job offers through WhatsApp mesages and phone calls. The adverts were posted with no other information than “Ladies Wanted” and “Young Men Wanted,” and the amounts of the payments, between S/1.500 and S/2.000.

Thirty individuals were convened, [to be interviewed] at an establishment that acted as a work agency […]. Plain-clothed female police officers impersonated job interviewers and proposed the young candidates to travel without warning their parents and giving away their ID cards.

Twenty five of them accepted the proposal.

In Peru, the minimum wage is 850 Soles per month or a little over 260 USD whereas this ‘fake’ job offered between 1,200-2,000 Soles (370-610 USD). It was indeed appealing especially to young people living in populous areas where the job adverts were posted. Many young people responded innocently in search of work.

Once the alleged job interview was over, the officers let the candidates know it was all part of a campaign “No dejes que te encuentren” (Don't let them find you), to demonstrate how traffickers capture their victims.

On the campaign's Facebook page, the ministry shared the video of staged job interviews and a shorter version was posted on YouTube:

Watch out! They are looking for you. Don't let them find you.

The hashtag #QueNoTeEncuentren [Don't let them find you] tracked a wide range of reactions to the clever campaign on Twitter:

If you find this advert appealing, then we invite you to watch this video.

Don't let them find you.
People, have some good judgement, please. Don't fall for deceitful ads. Preventing human trafficking depends on us, too.

Don't let them find you. I'm glad that finally some interest is being taken about this issue. In areas of informal mining and drug trafficking, this is very common.

National Prevention Human Trafficking Day, don't let them find you.

Human-trafficking figures are discouraging. According to 2015 reports, less than three out of 100 prosecuted individuals are actually sentenced for human-trafficking and 60% of victims are minors. An article written by journalist Grecia Delta accounts for young people's harrowing stories of human trafficking, revealing the ways in which victims were tricked and later ‘rescued’ by the system.

The process of recovery from human-trafficking is long and hard, and as seen in youth testimonies, it often comes with mistreatment and discrimination.

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