The Monty Python team have entered the anti-trafficking field. They must have, as who else would draft an initiative as daft as this one from the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking?
As everyone knows, it’s impossible to know how many people are real trafficked victims (they didn’t register with anyone at the border, remember). Year after year institutions claim they have got the right numbers and year after year the figures are debunked. The high-end figure I mentioned the other day – 27 million slaves worldwide – changes the terms of the guessing game to include vast new groups of people.
When the game announcement was sent around my networks yesterday, all sorts of suggestions were made: fill a jar with beans and ask someone to guess the number, count every third person that passes your window over a certain period, make up a fancy algorithm, put a keyboard in your mouth and bite down and so on. I’ve commented on some of the nuttiest lines in orange, which seems an appropriately circus-y colour.
The UNIAP Human Trafficking Estimates Competition is a revolutionary step forward in our tackling of human trafficking and determining the prevalence of human trafficking. Revolutionary? Tackling?
UNIAP is looking for innovative, creative methodologies to estimate the number of trafficking victims, traffickers, or profits in or from Asia that are logical, feasible, and defendable. We are hoping to engage innovative, rigorous thinking find a way to get the numbers that the anti-trafficking community so desperately needs. Desperately? Could that be because so much money is spent on this with so little to show for it?
Despite the underground and clandestine nature of human trafficking, UNIAP believes it IS possible to estimate the magnitude of the crime. Ta-da! Belief is everything.
The Competition Challenges are:
Challenge 1: “Estimate the number of trafficking victims within your chosen geographical area and sector(s) OR supply chain relating to the Mekong region.”
Challenge 2: “Estimate the number of traffickers within your chosen geographical area and sector(s) OR supply chain relating to the Mekong region.” Not only victims, then.
Challenge 3: “Estimate the amount of financial profit made by trafficking-related criminal activities within your chosen geographical area and sector(s) OR supply chain relating to the Mekong region.” These estimates might be the most fantastic of all.
Soon afterward, each short-listed entry will be brought to a final judging competition in Bangkok, to defend their approach in front of a panel of independent judges and audience. (Translation support will be available for Mekong languages). Oh! It’s a Reality Show! The best sales pitch wins! I’ll bet they televise it.
The winners will receive prizes (and glory!), but more importantly: Top entries will be published and disseminated globally, and Funding ($40,000 US) will be provided to pilot the top methodologies in the field.
How To Enter: see the Python website. Go on – put a keypunch machine on your head and see what number appears as you walk around during a six-hour period.
I know – this is impossibly silly. That’s how desperate they are.
–Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist