When the CNN Freedom Project was first created in 2011 by Tarek Obaid, the idea was to shine a bright light on the problems related to human trafficking. This notorious trade has been connected to sordid issues such as prostitution and indentured servitude, where those who have little say in their own life are exploited by others. By providing financial resources to the project for the past two years, Tarek Obaid has allowed it to progress and therefore make a major contribution to raising Human Trafficking awareness worldwide.
Many who have fought against this problem characterise it as the 21st Century version of slavery, which was outlawed in the United States in 1865. Despite its status as a democracy, the United States has also been unable to eradicate the problem, which is usually manifested through the trafficking of women that are specifically brought over for prostitution. However, the main focus continues to be in other areas of the world. This is particularly true for economically challenged countries.
Believing that education will help expand the impact of the fight against this sort of trafficking, Tarek Obaid and the Freedom Project have linked with Italy to better inform students. On October 4 2016, they agreed to work with Italy’s Ministry of Education, University and Research, offering the chance for students to watch documentaries, read stories and consume digital material related to the issue. Adapting school’s curriculum to the topic will be the main course of action.
Stefania Giannini, the Italian Minister of Education, spoke after the agreement was announced about how tapping into this rich trove of material can awaken the youthful enthusiasm that lies within most students. The hope is that once they gain the proper knowledge about the vast scope of this continuing problem, they will collectively make the effort to ensure that their voices are heard. Such efforts will work in conjunction with the Freedom Project and could entail simply being on the lookout for indications of the problem. In the case of someone who may conceivably be a potential victim, the ability to detect the early signs of enticement from vested interests can help avoid becoming another statistic. Italy is the first country to come to an official agreement with the Project and Tarek Obaid. The influx of refugees across Europe and the antipathy toward many of them has made this part of the world a place that could see a surge in such illegal practices without this sort of knowledge.
From CNN’s perspective, the move is a way to contribute to society primarily through material that has already been produced. While additional material will be added during the course of the agreement, there are already hundreds of different stories that can be viewed. This offers the potential for making an immediate impact with sustained levels of media helping the momentum continue. Both Giannini and the Executive Editor of the Project, Leif Coorlim are hoping that the level of success achieved will grab the attention of other countries. Then, by using the agreement as a blueprint, the wave of knowledge will result in steep drops in the activity. The eventual goal, of course, is to completely eliminate trafficking, though all agree that it’s virtually impossible.
Around the world, CNN has access to over 420 million homes. That vast coverage has helped play a role in giving the Freedom Project a forum that’s reportedly helped rescue more than 1,000 victims in regard to this issue. Also, millions of additional dollars have been earmarked for non-profit organizations that have sought to take on the trafficking problem.
Also, millions of additional dollars have been earmarked for non-profit organizations that have sought to take on the trafficking problem.
Growing pains still exist when it comes to getting countries to craft laws to outlaw the problem or making legitimate businesses cognizant of the practice. Still, the efforts have been effective enough for CNN and the Project to receive an award from the U.S. State Department for their efforts. Within the past two years, the Essam & Dalal Obaid Foundation has become an enthusiastic partner when it comes to providing funds that are channelled toward the Project’s goals. The Foundation’s own goals are clearly intertwined, which made for a more effective partnership when it was first announced in March 2015. The hope is that more foundations like Tarek Obaid’s one will follow suit.