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R.AGE aims to fight student trafficking in Malaysia

The Star’s R.AGE team has launched a campaign to support the “Students Against Trafficking” campaign today. The campaign, which is supported by the Ministry Of Higher Education (MOHE), looks to empower university students to help prevent trafficking in their institutions.

The campaign as a whole has received pledges of support from the Malaysian Immigration Department and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also the Minister of Home Affairs.

In a conversation with A+M, a spokesperson from the R.AGE team said the campaign went online on 27 November, to mobilise Malaysian college and university students and to petition their respective institutions for better policies against student trafficking.

The campaign was launched with a new episode of its online documentary series, Student/Trafficked, which follows the R.AGE team’s undercover investigation of “education agents” who exploit international students by promising them dreams of higher education and quality jobs in Malaysia. These students often arrive in Malaysia to find that they’ve been scammed, and now have to work illegally to pay off their considerable debts.

The Students Against Trafficking website allows college and university students to generate online petition posters with their college/university’s names, asking them to implement three practices to safeguard their institutions from trafficking:

Cutting out trafficking agents

Regulating recruitment agents by adopting a commission-only policy, where agents are not allowed to charge students directly. They are only paid a commission by the institution. Agents who flout this policy are blacklisted. Approved agents are listed on the institution’s website

Adopting anti-trafficking procedures

These practices will screen for trafficking victims when students enrol, and outline how to handle trafficking cases.

Organising an anti-trafficking forum

Raise awareness by organising a forum on human trafficking, to empower students and staff to act against trafficking.

“It might sound a little cliched, but at R.AGE, we always believe that digital content and marketing has the power to affect change,” said R.AGE deputy executive editor and producer Ian Yee.

“And we’ve seen it work before. Our Predator In My Phone series on child sexual predators helped mobilise an entire nation to lobby its government for new laws against child sexual crimes, and it worked! Malaysia now has a brand new Sexual Offences Against Children Act to protect children from a wide range of sexual crimes not previously recognised under Malaysian law,” Yee said.

“Our hope now is that the entire region will support Students Against Trafficking, because human trafficking is an issue that literally crosses borders and affects the region as a whole. We have to spread awareness and address the issue at its various sources, not just here in Malaysia,” added Yee.

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