Politics and Social Change Workshop


Monday, September 17, 2018, 3:30pm to 5:30pm


CGIS Knafel Building, 1737 Cambridge Street, Room K050

"Anti-Trafficking Awareness Campaigns: Succeeded Until Failed"


Ludmila Bogdan, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Sociology, Harvard University

Co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University.


Cresa Pugh

Light refreshments will be served from 3:30 p.m. and the talk will begin promptly at 4:00 p.m.


Peggy Levitt, Associate. Chair; Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Wellesley College.

Jocelyn Viterna, Faculty Associate. Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Harvard University.

Paul Chang, Faculty Associate. Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Harvard University.


For over two decades, counter-trafficking organizations have acted on the assumption that raising awareness activities about human trafficking are extremely important for prevention. However, it comes as a surprise that none of these awareness campaigns are backed in scientific evidences. I bring empirical evidence directly from Moldova, a country with one of highest rates of human trafficking in the world, to show that awareness campaigns are not only inefficient but can also have serious side-effects. In fact, the people who are considered the most vulnerable to human trafficking are also the most informed. These campaigns: (1) have prevented people from informing themselves about safe migration, (2) have prevented people from seeking help in trafficking situations due to guilt and shame, and (3) have led people to internalize that they are more likely to become victims of trafficking. These findings suggest that awareness campaigns can have negative consequences on public perception about human trafficking and can prevent people from seeking help and assistance in trafficking situations.