Opportunity or Exploitation

Human trafficking is a serious and complex problem and one of the growing forms of organized crime globally. The process of human trafficking involves the exploitation of the human body and labor, the violation of the most basic human rights – from restricting communication and movement, to violence and abuse.

Open Gate, through the project “Opportunity or Exploitation”, in cooperation with the European Union and the Council of Europe, as one of the grantees of the joint initiative – “Horizontal Facilities for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022” (Horizontal Facility II), works on informing the public about the problem of human trafficking and protection measures with special emphasis on labor exploitation.

The internet is a key facilitator for the phenomenon of trafficking of human beings with an impact on the entire trafficking chain; from recruitment and transportation to the harboring of the victims and their actual exploitation. The recruitment of victims increasingly takes place online. Traffickers lure victims with promising advertisements for jobs or travel, placed on general advertisement sites or distributed through au pair agencies, international marriage agencies or dating sites. In addition to advertisements, traffickers also directly approach victims in chat rooms or on mainstream social media.

Do not rush! is a campaign is the campaign launched in North Macedonia aiming to inform and raise awareness among the population about the risks of human trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation.

Lack of information and lack of opportunities force people to accept dubious job offers and as a result become victims of human trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation. Young people most often from underdeveloped regions of the country decide to look for work abroad, unaware of the possible risks and thus to take risks and become victims of fraud (in terms of working conditions and wages) but also restriction of freedom, confiscation of passport and subject to cruel treatment and exploitation.

The reports of the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking of Human beings (GRETA) note that seasonal migrants, and migrants with unregulated residence, especially those who do not have regular access to the labour market, are particularly at risk of trafficking for the purposes of labour exploitation.

Recent reports indicate that in foreign countries, where people migrate mostly for work and a better life, there are Macedonian citizens victims of human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation. Unfortunately, North Macedonia is also considered a country of origin of trafficking in human beings. There are also cases of so-called “Internal” trafficking in human beings, where citizens from North Macedonia are trafficked within the country, mostly children. The age limit of the victims is drastically reduced and most of the victims are between 13 and 17 years old.

The first activity of the project “Opportunity or Exploitation” was the public competition for selection of the best graphic design on the topic of human trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation. We see graphic design as the art of the new age and new generations – which is why we decided to focus young designers on creating a creative design solution to raise public awareness of human trafficking for labor exploitation. The young designers who participated in the competition were indirectly involved in the education and awareness raising process of the campaign.

More than 30 young people applied for the competition with their creative solutions. Voting was divided into online voting and expert jury voting. The results brought 3 winners, below you can see the designs of TLK, Milos Ristoski and Angelina Velkova.