Trafficking in human beings (THB) is a major topic in the news, yet little is known about public knowledge and understanding of it. The EU-funded project UP-KAT (Understanding public knowledge and attitudes towards trafficking in human beings: A cross-national study) has taken a closer look. The project assessed the influence of socioeconomic, demographic and attitudinal factors within socioeconomic and political contexts of the THB countries of origin, transit and destination. This was done through three case studies in Hungary, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, respectively, and through the use of both qualitative and quantitative analysis. Conflicting legal and policy influences on the development of anti-trafficking approaches were examined. Case study countries varied in terms of how THB is viewed and what priority it takes for government and law enforcement. A questionnaire developed by the project with the aid of experts and available data served as a means to examine public understanding in the three countries. Respondents were questioned on the main sources of knowledge about the subject of human trafficking. Overall, no definitive pattern of association was identified in relation to the respondents' demographic characteristics and the answers they provided. A common thread was that human trafficking awareness exists, but that it is associated with different socioeconomic phenomena. This is reflective of how human trafficking is portrayed as a problem via national policies and mass media. Shortcomings of policymakers and anti-trafficking stakeholders are revealed in their tendency to overlook structural factors that increase socioeconomic vulnerability. Dissemination included formal and informal consultations in the case study countries and elsewhere. Findings will likely be of use to stakeholders at European and national levels in order to advance awareness.
Human trafficking, public awareness, anti-trafficking