GIS and the prevention of human trafficking

Thanks to MG from the Intro to GIS course.

UNESCO’s Regional Office for Culture in Asia and the Pacific is charged with preserving cultural heritage. UNESCO has completed quite a few interesting projects involving GIS as a tool to analyse the results and to manage the newly obtained information. One of the projects lead by UNESCO Bangkok is called GIS-Linked Social Sentinel Surveillance Project. People in the project have created several interactive maps predominantly with the purpose of establishing the patterns of trafficking routes, the trade in girls and women, the manifestation of AIDS, and the movements and migrations of people. In this mission, GIS makes intervention much more efficient because it enables various trends to be mapped and the information to be stored for future uses.

One example of the problems stated above is the human trafficking of women, which is the main cause for the spread of HIV/AIDS in Thailand. Thailand’s sex industry draws women and girls from China, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. Mostly minority women are targeted for this trade due to their poor monetary situation and ignorance about their rights and the threat of trafficking. UNESCO, government organizations and non-governmental organizations have been gathering data to enable the development of specific objectives through GIS analysis of the data. For example, project members could build an educational plan in a particular region of Thailand if it is what’s needed there. Intervention groups could make linkages between the different maps and aim for a solution that really targets the sex industry and its components. Furthermore, intervention groups and the government could produce maps to continually monitor and thus dismantle networks of girl trafficking.

The UNESCO Bangkok website hosts a GIS Map Collection on issues such as sex data, migration, economics, and highland people. Here is an example animated choropleth map showing the dramatic increases in HIV/AIDS 1989 and 2003.

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