A Swipe for Awareness

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two years, you will be familiar with an app called Tinder. The online dating service’s popularity keeps on growing, with more and more people joining it every day. Whether you’re looking for friendship, romance or a bit of fun, Tinder is the place to be.

It’s a very light-hearted process, a simple swipe right to ‘like’ the person who pops up on your screen, or a swipe left for a prompt ‘see ya l8r m8’. It’s all just a bit of craic – more of a game than an in depth search for ‘da wun’. People swipe until they can swipe no more.

But what if something more sinister is lurking behind that seriously attractive young lady/man that you just matched with? What if their face has been put up there against their will? What if they are underage, physically abused and forced to meet up with strangers for sex?

According to Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, not enough Irish people realise that sex trafficking is a reality in the country.

“Sex trafficking is one of the most lucrative crimes with the sums involved on a par with those for drug smuggling and gun running, yet many people are not aware that it is a reality in communities right across Ireland.”

Irish online advertising agency eightytwenty has launched a new anti-sex trafficking campaign on behalf of the Irish Immigrant Council to raise awareness for victims of the sex trade. The campaign is centred around the Tinder app and is affiliated with the Turn Off The Red Light Campaign, and sees fake profiles tell the story of various trafficking victims.

The user will come across what looks like a normal, pretty girl, but when they swipe through her profile, they will see pictures that depict the sad reality of her situation. One profile, Ana, shows photos of a girl with a bruised face and burst lip, a victim of violence in the sex industry. Another profile, Natalia, claims to be 21, but as you look at her other photos it becomes evident that she is underage.

The second last image on every profile contains slogans such as “Made up to work here, but too young to be there. Girls as young as 14 years old are trafficked into Ireland for sexual exploitation.” and “A swipe to the left, and a swipe to the right. The physical scars of sex trafficking will eventually fade, but the mental scars last a lifetime.” The final photo on each profile contains a link to the ‘Turn Off The Red Light’ campaign’s website, and urges users to help end it now.

“This is the first use of Tinder in Ireland for a campaign of this nature and one of the first globally. Tinder has become an extremely popular app in Ireland, and it provides us with a unique, innovative and stand out way of communicating to men the issues faced by women involved in sex trafficking,” said Cathal Gillen of eightytwenty.

Jade O’Leary

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