Data released in 2016 by the National Crime Records Bureau in India shows an increase of 18% in the number of cases of human trafficking between 2015 and 2016. In this context, the proliferation of fake news, news reports where photographs and names of survivors are displayed, and lack of gender sensitivity in reporting, have a further adverse impact on the cause and survivors. Irresponsible use of social media also perpetuates human trafficking.
Impulse NGO Network’s (INGON) groundwork on human trafficking issues helped them see that dealing with the press is critical for resolving cases. Their work involved training approximately 100 journalists and they have successfully used the press to expose cases.
Building on this, Hasina Kharbhih, the founder and Chairperson of INGON, along with Karma Paljor they launched the ‘Impulse Model Press Lab’ to aid sensitive reporting on cross-border human trafficking. Their fellowship programme for media houses across India, Nepal and Myanmar, and Bangladesh is aimed at improving the quality of reporting of cases of human trafficking, inculcating gender sensitivity and providing technical information to media houses. This programme will not only provide information about human trafficking, but also cover legal sensitisation of the press, and building journalist participation in the justice delivery system.
Over the years, The Press Lab intends to create a cohort of journalists who can specialise in reporting on human trafficking. Such accurate and sensitive reporting of human trafficking will encourage victims to come forward with their cases without any fear of sensationalization. It will also create mass awareness on the issue and contribute to policy engagement on human trafficking using media reports. The INGON model will strengthen with the media on board.