Mobile Spans Language Gap to Aid Human Trafficking Victims

Aida Akl at VOATechTonics: “A mobile solution from the Mekong Club, a non-profit group dedicated to fighting slavery, helps identify potential trafficking victims among populations where the person’s country of origin and language is unknown, and lets law enforcement agencies communicate with them.

The Android app was the product of collaboration between the Mekong Club, the United Nations Action for Cooperation Against Trafficking in Persons, and MotherApp, a private company that developed the app for free.

To communicate with potential victims, users press an icon which brings up a sample of flags on the phone’s screen, said Mathew Friedman, CEO of the Mekong Club, in an email interview.

A screenshot from the human trafficking mobile app shows potential human trafficking victims the flags of several countries. Once users choose thee one that corresponds to them, a video in their language comes on and asks them questions about whether they are being exploited and need help.

Users then tap the flags that correspond to their countries of origin. “Once this has been done,” Friedman added, “a video in the language of the country comes up informing the respondent of his/her rights, assuring them of confidentiality, and explaining that the officials playing the video to them are there to help should they require assistance.”

The videos pose a number of questions for users to respond to by pressing either a green button for an affirmative answer or a red button for a negative response.

A screenshot from the Mekong Club's mobile app shows some of the questions users are asked to determine if they are victims of human trafficking. (The Mekong Club)

The questions help law enforcement officials determine if the respondent is a victim of human trafficking.

“If all of the users’ answers are in the affirmative, then that would indicate a potential problem,” said Friedman.

Organizations that tested the app found it useful in bridging the translation gap. Friedman said the easy-to-use app offers an option for responders to triage potential victims in locations where translation is absent and allows the user to take notes and record audio/visual information….

Once developed, Friedman said the app will be cost-effective because “putting it on responder phones doesn’t cost anything.” But he lamented that it was only able to help “about 48,000″ trafficking victims last year — “well below one percent,” he said….(More)”