We are a registered 501c3 in the United States, and we are also a registered charitable foundation in Thailand.
When we use the term “active operative,” on our site, we are referring to individuals who have been vetted, trained, and empowered directly by our organization and remain on our current roster. Many of these individuals are not full-time employees. Rather, they are deployed volunteers who serve 2-4 weeks a year, contract national investigators, full-time national or Western operatives, volunteers with CHARLIE team in the United States, and investigators from partner organizations while working joint cases.
The Exodus Road was birthed out of a recognition of the deficiencies of intervention efforts specifically, and it will remain focused primarily to that end. We have developed an effective system and strategy for gathering evidence, analyzing data, and supporting rescues, and with so few organizations actively focused on empowering targeted interventions, we will remain in this area of focus.
We also believe that when arrests and prosecutions are made in respectful partnerships with the local governments, we are slowing the lucrative machine that is trafficking and the underage sex industry. When the local police raids and arrests, a message is sent to brothel owners, risk for illegal activities increases, and the bribed relationship between government and brothel owner (in some countries) is broken. We are not only rescuing the victim today, but we are also rescuing the many victims who the imprisoned brothel owner will not enslave tomorrow. This is a strategic, effective, long-term method of causing positive social change. We do fuel cases which are locally-based, as well as longer-term cases targeting higher level crime syndicates.
When we talk about our organization’s progress regarding “supported rescues” and “supported arrests,” we are referring to raids and arrests which The Exodus Road directly supported through significant financial investment, investigative support or manpower, the donation of covert gear or direct leadership. Victim rescues and perpetrator arrests are ultimately the responsibility of trusted police partners and we as an NGO only play a secondary role in gathering evidence, providing resources or support.
When we talk about “active operatives,” we are referring to the individuals who are currently serving with us to gather information about trafficking. These are not primarily full-time employees, but consist of: deployed Western volunteers, contract national operatives, full-time staff, and partnering operatives from other organizations while working on joint cases.
We believe strongly in partnerships, and we are a leading member of The Liberty Alliance, a network of strategic counter-trafficking organizations in SE Asia. While some of our relationships with other organizations are official, public, and surrounding formal projects, other partnerships are more organic and informal. When we use the term “partner” in our communications, we are referring to an organization with which we have an established relationships.
Because of the nature of our work, our stats are always changing, of course.
We consider the safety of our operatives in the field of utmost importance. Because many of the agents live in the same countries where they are investigating, it is difficult for them to publicly show their faces, names or needs.
We can tell you that the investigators in our network are from at least five different religions and six different countries. Many of them are ex-military, and some have been trained and worked for other investigative NGOs in the past. Of the investigators, we have a slightly higher percentage who are national than foreign. Currently, most are male, but we do have a small number of females, too. All are incredibly brave.
However, in an effort to ensure better victim care post raid, we do offer three solutions.
1. We employ national social workers to follow and advocate for the victims through the legal and post-raid process, even if those victims are placed in government care.
2. We utilize (beginning in late Fall 2015) a cloud-based database system to track victims from the point of his/her raid, immediate care, and long term placement, for up to three years.
3. Thirdly, we grant funds to underfunded partners specializing in after care projects to encourage better survivor services. We fund specific projects related to victims we help rescue, as well as victims in the care of trusted partners. These projects have included: educational fees, repatriation fees, medical and counseling fees, debt repayment, emergency relief for an after care shelter, and job skills classes, to name a few.
We also are committed to protecting the rights and privacy of both our investigative team, slavery victims and exploited children. Because of that, certain facts in our reporting of actual cases will be “washed,” or altered to protect those involved. Places, dates, and names will often be changed, while actual details (such as number of victims rescued, money spent in operations, the “story”) will not be changed. We are also committed to protecting the methods by which our operatives gather their intel. Thus, we will not be giving sensitive information on strategies, types of equipment, or safety measures our team takes.
We will not show footage or reveal information from any live case, and undercover footage will only show faces of potential victims blurred or eyes blocked out to protect privacy.
Photos used on our site are typically representative and are rarely photos of actual victims, places, or investigators. You can read our full media policy HERE.
1. It is typically illegal and is qualified as kidnapping. Because it is of the utmost importance to keep positive working relationships with local governments, an NGO operative must work underneath the framework of the national police force. This method of “grab and go,” while seemingly the more compassionate solution, actually undermines the authority of the local government in destructive ways.
2. It does not help the big picture. Immediate and vigilante rescue apart from the law might save one victim of trafficking, but it does little to help future victims. Working within the legal system and with the local police are key elements to lasting social change, as human trafficking will become less lucrative with every arrest made and brothel shut down.
3. It is dangerous. Working outside of the law and independently puts all involved at greater risk, including the victim.
4. In some cases, however, there might be exceptions. If an undercover investigator finds a victim in grave and immediate physical danger, we encourage operatives to remove the victim and make immediate calls to local authorities for reporting and immediate help. Again, operatives must do everything possible to work within the framework of local authorities.
We also invest in cyberforensics gear to analyze information critical to higher level crime syndicates. You can expect this area of our work to greatly expand in the near future.
You can see our full financial data by going here.
We believe that one of our unique functions in this field is to gather as many people as possible “around the table” for the sake of bringing justice to the modern day slave. We also believe that because we work internationally, it is important for us to reach out in a neutral way to the governments with which we work. Right now, our teams in the field represent a variety of religions.
Having said that, the members of the executive leadership at this time do identify with the Christian faith and are motivated for justice out of their faith. Currently, many, but not all, of the after care facilities in our network are also faith-based. You can read an article we wrote about this philosophy HERE.
This same mentality applies to the United States, as well, and is the main tenant of our TraffickWatch program.
Generally speaking, anti-trafficking or freedom organizations typically fight slavery through prevention, intervention or after care. Our chief focus remains in empowering rescue for current victims of slavery in the intervention sphere. This involves strategically gathering and analyzing data and evidence and supporting successful police and legal action. While we do invest in both prevention and after care, our main niche remains in finding and freeing current slaves.
In addition to those differences in purpose, organizations can have a host of varying ideals and values. You can check out our Who We Are page to read more about our values as an organization, which include the belief that justice is in the hands of the ordinary, that donors should be brought to the front lines, and that every victim rescued is worth celebrating.
We believe that every girl or boy trapped in slavery deserves freedom. If we lose site of the value of the one, we lose a bit of our humanity and compassion. So, yes, our teams work hard to rescue and care for each individual, specifically by advocating for their placement into qualified after care facilities in our network or with the government.
We also recognize that the bigger-picture of trafficking must be battled within the legal systems of a local government. We understand that to slow the mechanisms of slavery, we must make it riskier and more expensive to buy and sell human beings. The primary way this is accomplished is via the local legal system.
Subscribe. The easiest way to stay connected with the work of The Exodus Road and its partners is to subscribe to our site/newsletter. It’s a free, simple way to not forget about us. You can enter your email on the footer or sign up HERE.
Become an Exodus Road Online Abolitionist. This team writes or shares stories from the field and uses their social influence to fight slavery. You can read more about this program by going HERE.
Give Financially. Fuel the efforts on the ground by committing to a monthly or one-time financial gift to The Exodus Road. You can also visit our site and help fund our latest project. Donate HERE.
Sponsor an Investigator. The monthly backbone of our efforts is in surveillance through funds from our Search & Rescue Program. With $35/month, you’ll be sending out a local trained investigator to gather intel on where victims of slavery are located, and you’ll be connecting with a real field team. This is the first essential step in investigations. Join Search and Rescue HERE.
Volunteer. We have developed a host of ways you can practically impact the rescue work of the frontlines. From writing letters to becoming an online hero to bringing a Freedom Weekend to your community, we want you to have a variety of choices to help us. Get started HERE.
Socially Invest. Share, share, share. You have influence within your own circle of friends and family; leverage it for rescue. Connect with us on facebook, twitter (@theExodusRoad), instagram (@theexodusroad), and pinterest and personally invite others to do the same. Never underestimate the power of your voice.