Business travel and the fight against human trafficking

BCD Travel and our partners A21 and End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) are committed to helping raise awareness and provide education that sensitizes everyone to the issue of modern slavery and human trafficking.

A child stands peering out of a door opening on a floating boat in a Cambodian river

Today, 50 million people are being abused and exploited as sex slaves, domestic servants, laborers and forced beggars. The United Nations campaign for World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2023, observed July 30, aims to raise awareness about this human rights issue. The global business travel community is uniquely positioned to help combat human trafficking because traffickers use hotels, airports, and major global events to exploit victims. BCD Travel and our partners A21 and End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) are committed to helping raise awareness and provide education that sensitizes everyone to modern slavery and human trafficking.

Human trafficking is a global crime happening in industries we interact with every day

Human traffickers recruit, move, harbor, and receive children, women and men through coercion, abuse of vulnerability, deception, or other means for the purpose of exploitation. People who come from marginalized communities, lack legal status, live in poverty, or have limited access to education, healthcare, or decent work are often the primary targets of traffickers – but any person is at risk of being taken. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, trafficking risks are escalating due to global crises, conflicts, and the climate emergency; the resulting displacement and socio-economic inequalities leave millions as potential victims. Profits from these crimes are estimated at US$150 billion per year.

Supporting advocacy and rescue organizations like A21 and ECPAT can help break the exploitation CYCLE

The A21 Campaign is a global 501 non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to fight human trafficking, including sexual exploitation and trafficking, forced slave labor, bonded labor, involuntary domestic servitude, and child soldiery. ECPAT, End Child Prostitution and Trafficking, is the world’s largest influencing network fully dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of children. Our partnership with these organizations is aligned with our participation in The Code, a multi-member initiative of the travel industry that encourages members to provide educational tools and support initiatives to end exploitation.

If you suspect human trafficking

  • Do not confront the child or adult
  • Observe as much as possible; remember location, clothing, descriptions, how many people, the time and any names used
  • Discreetly alert authorities or security personnel near you. If it is not possible to report to law enforcement, then report online to ECPAT – report child exploitation or A21 – report human trafficking 

Organizations can get involved by creating and offering awareness, education, and prevention resources within companies, either in-person or online via your learning platforms. Develop workshops, education sessions and engagement campaigns for spotting the signs of modern slavery and how to safely report an incident if something feels wrong. Check the A21 and ECPAT sites for ideas about content, presentations, awareness, primary prevention programs and more.

  • Know the facts – Familiarize yourself with the facts about human trafficking
  • Spread awareness – Share what you learn with others in your home, community, social networks, and any place you can
  • Volunteer – Donate your time to organizations working to abolish slavery
  • If you see something, say something – Learn the signs of human trafficking and safely seek help for potential victims, keeping your wellbeing and theirs in mind

BCD Travel's Claire Stephens floats in the water during training for a 2-mile open water sea swim along the UK coastline – from Lyme Regis to Charmouth.
Image courtesy of Claire Stephens BCD Travels Vice President Global Client Team Claire is training for a September open water sea swim to raise support for an A21 project focusing on combating trafficking in Cambodias most vulnerable communities

Out of her depth: BCD’s Claire Stephens to attempt open water swim for human trafficking awareness

BCD Travel Vice President Claire Stephens wouldn’t describe herself as a great swimmer. But she’s pushing past her comfort zone and training for an open water swim near Dorset, England. Why? To draw attention to the plight of the millions of people trapped in modern slavery. In September Stephens will attempt the Lyme Regis to Charmouth Challenge Sea Swim, covering a distance of nearly two miles, or 3.15 km, with an average sea temperature of 62.6°F, or 17 °C.

BCD's Claire Stephens navigates choppy water and splashing waves while training for her 2-mile open water sea swim along the UK coastline – from Lyme Regis to Charmouth.
Image courtesy of Claire Stephens BCD Travel

Claire’s swim supports an A21 project focusing on combating trafficking in Cambodia’s most vulnerable communities, specifically Northern Cambodia, near the Thailand border. Communities nearby experience some of the highest levels of poverty in the country. Because of this, migration for work across the border into Thailand is common. Children, unaware of the dangers, are targeted for trafficking – and their families and communities don’t know how to protect them.

“Human trafficking flies under the radar. It is a very difficult topic to discuss, and yet this awful exploitation of human beings is the most profitable business in the world. To raise awareness for such an important issue, I felt I had to do something completely outside of my comfort zone,” Stephens said.

Stephens, a U.K. resident, works in BCD’s Global Client Team. She was honored as BCD’s 2021 Woman of Distinction, in part for her efforts to drive a campaign that ultimately resulted in Modern Slavery training for over 91% of BCD staff globally. She also serves in the United Kingdom’s Royal Voluntary Service as an active “Check In and Chat” volunteer, helping people who are isolated and lonely. As a non-medical Community Responder for the National Health Service (NHS) during the height of COVID, she helped vulnerable members of the community with everyday activities.

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