Polaris: On the front lines of fighting human trafficking

For today’s Humanosphere podcast, we’re talking with a leader in the battle to end human trafficking. Bradley Myles and his colleagues at Polaris have for the past 15 years concentrated their efforts on reducing, and ideally eliminating, a practice that unfortunately may be as old as human history: slavery and trade in human beings.

Bradley Myles of Polaris

Bradley Myles of Polaris

Humanosphere’s executive editor met with Myles at this year’s Skoll World Forum in Oxford, U.K., where he and his organization were honored for their ambitious and creative efforts to fight human trafficking. We explore with Myles what makes Polaris’ approach pretty creative and perhaps more effective in the fight against human trafficking.

In our exploration of this global scourge, we learn from Myles that most trafficking worldwide – and in the U.S. as well – is not sex trafficking but rather forced or coerced labor. Polaris has been fighting against all forms of human slavery, but Myles believes the focus on the sex trade, though worthy, can obscure the many kinds of trafficking in labor that go on as well. One surprising example: Those teens who sell magazine subscriptions door-to-door? They are sometimes in a forced labor situation.

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And because human trafficking and coerced labor can take so many different forms, Myles said, it often requires quite different responses. Polaris learned this after launching the human trafficking hotline in the U.S. (which victims of trafficking call into as well as regular citizens who suspect something is amiss). So they did some research and recently issued a new report called the Typology of Modern Slavery that delineates the characteristics of different forms of trafficking – and the different responses needed. Listen in to Paulson’s interview with Myles. It’s a good one.

As usual, before getting into the main interview we discuss some of the news highlights in the Humanosphere. Producer Imana Gunawan and correspondent Tom Murphy talked about the recent stories, including those on fertility apps, the Water Collective, Oxfam’s new analysis on corporate tax avoidance, and my insights from this year’s Skoll World Forum.

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About Author

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.