MMW Journalist Awarded Fellowship to Tackle Human Trafficking Crisis in Sierra Leone

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NEWS RELEASE – Freetown, Sierra Leone, Feb. 17, 2023 – 

Human trafficking of women and children has reached crisis levels in Sierra Leone, and MMW reporter Zainab Sheriff is determined to use her power as a journalist to join efforts to control it, particularly the trafficking of children for forced labor and sex work.  

“In my country, traffickers recruit victims from rural provinces and urban areas for sex work and forced domestic, mining, and agricultural labor,” explained Sheriff. “Sex trafficking is also fueled by traditional customs such as forced marriage, and it increased with COVID and the economic downturn.” 

Sheriff was among 12 journalists from Sierra Leone who were awarded a journalism fellowship for training on human trafficking, organized by the U.S. State Department and the Center on Human Trafficking at the University of Georgia in the United States. The program also supports the launch of collaborative journalism networks on trafficking so that media can continue to report effectively on these issues.

Several workshops addressed the problem of human trafficking, particularly of children, and also included capacity-building training to produce evidence-based stories to help identify and collect data in areas with a higher level of trafficking, and to identify and help survivors. Also addressed were ethical issues in reporting, and privacy and safety issues for survivors and their parents and guardians. Sheriff has worked in the Eastern Rural Province with MMW and developed close community ties, which will provide an advantage for her work.

“Learning about the way that human trafficking has affected the whole world, and reading and hearing survivors’ touching stories has greatly increased my interest and determination to fight to reduce or wipe out this terrible problem,” explained Sheriff.

The fellowship program benefits MMW by providing knowledge and ideas for podcasts, as well as topic experts and survivors of trafficking for interviews. “This will assist our organization in  working to help communities where our podcasts reach to be more safe for women and children,” Sheriff said.

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