Pivot provides assistance information to female human trafficking victims without detection by their captors. Ordinary-looking sanitary pads are distributed by healthcare providers, outreach workers, and activists to suspected victims. Hidden inside each pad is an insert printed on water-soluble paper with information on how to seek help and a trafficking hotline number. Victims access the insert in the privacy of a restroom, detach the phone number (disguised as a fortune-cookie tab), and flush the rest of the insert in the toilet, allowing the victims to safely carry the necessary information with them until they are mentally and physically ready to seek help.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. It is a modern-day form of slavery. While precise statistics are hard to come by, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked in the United States each year. The vast majority of victims are women.
According to anti-human trafficking (AHT) experts, most victims who escape their captors do so by their own initiative – they rescue themselves. Accordingly, many victim support services offer “hotline” numbers that provide emergency assistance including housing, medical care, and legal representation to victims who call. The challenge is in letting victims know that the hotline exists, and making sure they know the phone number when they are ready to use it. Traditional forms of outreach, like billboards and posters, are great at reaching wide audiences, but they rely on victims’ being able to remember a phone number for potentially days or weeks until they are ready or able to call for help. Pivot, by comparison, offers a means for outreach workers to discretely provide information to victims, and for victims to discretely hold hotline numbers for extended periods of time.
Pivot began through a collaboration between the Public Practice Studio at the University of Washington and the Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network in early 2012. Design work began in the fall of 2012, and continued into early 2013.
This past May, an initial run of 1,000 pads were produced and distributed to a network of AHT organizations and healthcare providers in Washington State.
Since announcing this project, Pivot has won multiple design awards, including a Gold International Design Excellence Award award from the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), and Grand Prize in the 2013 Design Ignites Change Idea Awards competition.
We have also been contacted by statewide and national anti-human trafficking organizations that want to distribute pads. We are currently working with multiple distribution partners including advocacy organizations and OB/GYN clinics. We now turn to Indiegogo to produce a run of 20,000 pads that will be distributed across the United States. If funded, we anticipate producing pads this fall and beginning distribution towards the end of the year.
Why 20,000 pads?
20,000 is the minimum order required by our vendors. We would like to produce more – the more money we raise, the more pads we will produce. This project will continue to be a volunteer effort – all money raised will go into producing more pads.
Why Should I Fund Pivot?
Let’s be honest – backing Pivot isn’t going to get you a hot new toy or cutting-edge technology. While we do offer our backers some cool swag, including T-shirts, posters, and party invitations, the main reason to support our project is to help victims of human trafficking. We think this is an exciting project because it enables backers to help combat human trafficking in a direct and effective manner. We believe that small contributions from lots of people can lead to dramatic results.
Pivot was initiated by the Public Practice Studio, a socially-engaged design lab comprised of faculty, students, and alumni at the University of Washington’s Division of Design. The project was developed in collaboration with the Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network (WARN), a coalition of non-governmental organizations that provide direct services to victims of human trafficking in Washington State.