Tampons against trafficking

While educating themselves about the issue, team members were surprised to discover that victims of trafficking aren’t usually rescued by police knocking down doors, like in the movies. Instead, victims typically rescue themselves, by seeking help when they are ready.
Instructions on how to escape traffickers are included inside the sanitary pad packaging
Instructions on how to escape traffickers are included inside the sanitary pad packaging
UW

A group of graduate art students at the University of Washington have been winning kudos, and awards, for a novel approach to combatting sex trafficking.

Sanitary pads, aka tampons.

While educating themselves about the issue, team members were surprised to discover that victims of trafficking aren’t usually rescued by police knocking down doors, like in the movies. Instead, victims typically rescue themselves, by seeking help when they are ready.

Pivot team members wanted to design something that made getting help easier for victims. Phone numbers on a poster are fine, but not if a woman has to memorize a 10-digit number or find a piece of paper and pen to write it down. Plus, victims are often watched closely and never left alone – except when they go to the bathroom.

The students, led by UW assistant professor Tad Hirsch , call their project Pivot

“The vast majority of human-trafficking victims are women,” Hirsch said. “A sanitary pad is the kind of product that’s innocuous. It’s sealed, and when you open it, you’re probably alone.”

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.