VIDEOS: Swimming upstream to stop slavery

by David Batstone | Not For Sale Fund
Monday, 22 August 2016 16:40 GMT

* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

How can we address slavery at its roots and inoculate at-risk populations from the threat of exploitation?

Not For Sale launched as a non-profit agency in 2007 with the ambitious goal "to put an end to slavery in our lifetime.”  Out of the gates, we followed the same playbook that almost every other anti-human trafficking organization uses:  A three-pronged strategy to raise public awareness, advocate with government institutions, and provide essential services to victims. After five years of passionate and dedicated practice of these activities, we came to the conclusion that our efforts were insufficient, and would not solve the systemic causes of trafficking. It seemed if we were at the end of a river pulling out bodies that were drowning and flailing. Regardless of how many shelters we could build, and as many survivors we could assist, the stream of victims would keep flowing.

So in 2012 we embarked on a path to go upstream and understand answers to such questions as: Why so many individuals are being tossed into the river? How could we address slavery at its roots, and thereby inoculate at-risk populations from the threat of exploitation? What are the tools that generate slavery, and how could we design alternative tools that lead instead to empowerment of vulnerable peoples?


Upstream” represents two short films that explain our journey. The first film focuses on “reinventing social change” - our decision to implement scalable and sustainable strategies for ending exploitation.


The second film shifts to “reinventing business,” how we aim to design economic platforms that provide stability and empowerment to at-risk populations. At Not For Sale we feel that we are only in the early stages of an important experiment. But the results thus far are inspiring. I hope you agree.

David Batstone, Founder and President, Not For Sale