Every year, the United Nations works to highlight one of the most egregious forms of violence and abuse against people across the world with the World Day Against Trafficking In Persons on July 30. For 2021, the theme is centered on the voices of those most affected by this crime—the survivors themselves—and the UN will honor these voices by putting victims of human trafficking at the center of their campaign, this year entitled “Victims’ Voices Lead the Way”:
“The campaign portrays survivors as key actors in the fight against human trafficking and focuses on the crucial role they play in establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identify and rescue victims and support them on their road to rehabilitation.
Many victims of human trafficking have experienced ignorance or misunderstanding in their attempts to get help. They have had traumatic post-rescue experiences during identification interviews and legal proceedings. Some have faced revictimization and punishment for crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers. Others have been subjected to stigmatization or received inadequate support.
Learning from victims’ experiences and turning their suggestions into concrete actions will lead to a more victim-centered and effective approach in combating human trafficking.”
One of the survivors being featured by the United Nations in 2021 is Kendall Alaimo: an incredible activist fighting for better clinical education and research for those affected by the crime of human trafficking, a creative and professionally-trained artist working to create dialogue about human trafficking through her colorful art, and a survivor of child sex trafficking who is using her voice to advocate for change.
Kendall has been involved in activism for years, working to prevent sex crimes against children and training others in trauma, complex PTSD, resiliency, and more. In 2021, she was appointed a Member of the International Survivors of Trafficking Advisory Council (ISTAC) which assists the work of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in combating trafficking in persons.
Recently, she has noticed more than ever the need for educational opportunities for survivors of trafficking, something that is often out of reach for those living through experiences that leave them without proper funding or resources. She shares her own testimony of such experiences with being unable to accept university offers with the UN. Her remarks can be read in full here.
It was these experiences and learning from other survivors across the world facing the same barriers that led Kendall to found the groundbreaking University Alliance on Human Trafficking in celebration of the UN’s World Day Against Trafficking this year.
The University Alliance on Human Trafficking is an alliance of leaders and institutions committed to eradicating modern day slavery by creating pathways for survivors to obtain education and financial freedom. The University Alliance on Human Trafficking seeks to bring change and open dialogue with universities around the world to embrace policies and initiatives that seek to give survivors seats at the table – opportunities to thrive, learn, and go out into the world as doctors, lawyers, educators, clinicians, policy makers, and more. Additionally, it will be developing programming to work with corporations to encourage creation of trauma informed career opportunities.
As Kendall shares in her story:
“As survivors we have a vital role to play in the anti-human trafficking community. Our narratives must not merely be inspiring but the lessons that lay within them must be used to create lasting solutions.
Just like I want to become a clinician, other survivors want to fix and fill the gaps in after care and get justice not just for the crimes that were perpetrated against them but also justice for their peers.
These people are the most resilient individuals I have ever encountered. They have overcome slavery, gone through years of clinical care, saved their own lives and now the only thing they desire is to selflessly serve their community by going to school and obtaining professions to help remedy these human rights violations.”
As part of this initiative and in celebration of July 30, Kendall shipped red seats across the globe to universities to raise awareness about the importance of access to education for this population and to launch The University Alliance on Human Trafficking. To Kendall these red seats symbolize not just opportunity, having a seat at the table, and freedom but the anti-trafficking movement overall.
Kendall also shares her artistic talents in many inspiring ways, using her unique, colorful aesthetics to depict darker themes of child trafficking and other important subjects.
For 2021, she made a painting in honor of World Day Against Trafficking titled “Voices Lead the Way” which is featured by the United Nations here. The work “highlights this year’s theme, “Victims’ Voices Lead the Way.” The lips and megaphones symbolize survivor voices. Other elements highlight the importance of housing, education, justice, economic equity, community and stopping the demand.
Copyright Kendall Alaimo 2021
Right now, Kendall is also lending her talents to a large custom painting that will be proudly displayed at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s headquarters in Washington, DC.
We want to thank the United Nations for their commitment to honoring survivor voices with this year’s World Day Against Trafficking theme, and especially thank Kendall Alaimo for her tireless contributions to the movement in creative, innovative, and inspiring ways.
Thank you, Kendall, for standing up for better educational and clinical opportunities for survivors everywhere, for lending your artistic talents to beautifying and educating the world, and for using your voice to advocate for a world free from sexual abuse and exploitation.
Read Kendall Alaimo’s full bio here: “Kendall Alaimo is an international activist, a clinical educator, a professionally trained artist, and a survivor of child trafficking and re-exploitation. In celebration of World Day against Trafficking July 30th, 2021, Kendall founded The University Alliance on Human Trafficking. She is a Member of the International Survivors of Trafficking Advisory Council (ISTAC) which assists the work of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in combating trafficking in persons.”