Trafficking or human trading is a global problem, which requires many efforts in order to be overcome. It is often referred with the term ‘modern slavery’. Trading with humans is the third largest type of organized crime, after drug and weapon trafficking. It is also the fastest growing criminal activity. The Swedish Delegation for Human Rights state that approximately 80% of human trading are for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Women and children represent 99% of these victims, according to International Labour Office.
The problem is global but Europe has the highest amount of sex slaves per inhabitant. According to the UN, around 880,000 people in Europe are victims of human trafficking. This would imply that 700,000 of these are being sold for sexual purposes.The business is very profitable and the risks are few. It is easier and less risky to transport humans across borders than weapons and drugs. Several countries have an established market for prostitution. At the same time, laws, which criminalize human trading for sexual purposes, are relatively new in Europe. To respond to this challenge, Malin Roux Johansson founded RealStars as a non-profit organization, which strives to achieve a better world free from sex trafficking.
RealStars is an independent non-profit organization, established in 2010 by Malin Roux Johansson.
Malin Roux Johansson has a rich experience as manager, senior adviser and opinion maker. Her strong achievements and competences make her capable of driving strategic impact, building networks and successful activities with fresh perspectives on social problems as well as developing organizations and teams. In 2004, Malin founded Butterfly R & C, a value-based consulting company focuses on evaluation, strategy and development. Six years later, she decided to establish RealStars because of insights from the CSR-agenda and the sex trafficking mapping, which showed blind spots to tackle the root causes as demand. She decided to find a way to integrate sex trafficking in the Corporate Social Responsibility agenda. RealStars use innovative tools and international campaigns as For Fair Sex – Against trafficking. Malin has developed a pioneer platform for corporations with Business against trafficking and Hotels against trafficking.
Malin Roux Johansson as the principal founder and chairperson of the board runs RealStars since the beginning of its formal foundation. RealStars head office is located in Gothenburg.
RealStars is collaborating with number of Swedish and foreign non-profit organizations in achieving its mission. The organization cooperates with Swedish organizations in the initiative “Swedish Platform Civil Society against Human Trafficking”. One goal is to improve the coordination of the social aid provided for the victims exploited in trafficking for sexual purposes.
RealStars is involved in the European commission’s platform against trafficking in Brussels for the civil society and in the Swedish network for “Schyst resande”. RealStars is also a part of the network for the Anna Lindh foundation (ALF) – an intergovernmental initiative.
RealStars was established specifically to combat the growing sex trafficking industry in Europe. Under the slogan Fair Sex, the organization wants to promote human rights and reciprocity, respect and equality in intimate relationships. RealStars uses Fashion for Fair Sex, design and art in order to channel the message of Fair Sex to a broad audience. The work is based on the so-called Swedish model to counteract demand. Malin Roux Johansson has become a strong spokesperson for change and Fair Sex Against Trafficking.
This model implies that authorities seek to fight the demand for these services. RealStars argues that the best way to reduce the demand is to hold the buyers responsible for their actions and this is something they work hard to achieve. Prostitution leads to increased trafficking. If the buyers’ actions are criminalized the demand will consequently be reduced. This is an effective way to prevent trafficking and protect the victims. Fair Sex must include everyone.
The team of RealStars believes in the equal value of every individual and the right to freedom of everyone. RealStars fights for the realization of Fair sex for everyone. This implies sex on equal terms, with respect and without violence and coercion. The organization wants to inform, awaken debate and inspire the public as well as the community actors, and collaborate with among other schools, companies and artists.
RealStars works on opinion polls to influence politicians and other decision-makers to improve intra-EU trafficking legislation to include sex buying. The organization advocates the Swedish Sex Purchase Act as a tool for counteracting sex punishing, and strives to ensure that the EU and every member state establish similar laws.
The campaign for Fair Sex was launched in 2012. Through the campaign, RealStars wants to channel public opinion for a Europe free of trafficking and accelerate the development of EU legislation to include sex buying. In partnership with other brands and chains, RealStars aims to offer products promoting Fair Sex. RealStars has even since the beginning used art and design to carry the message about Fair Sex across to people through the campaign Art for Fair Sex.
The campaign Fashion for Fair Sex spreads the Fair Sex message so that consumers can contribute to Fair Sex by buying Fair Sex garments and accessories. In 2010, the designer Johanna Brag produced a pattern that is used in a tights and leggings collection that was exhibited at the Röhsska Museum’s shop and showroom in Gothenburg in late summer 2011. In 2013, T-shirts were launched with the Fair Sex message where the variant Fair Fucking Sex has gathered several famous voices and personalities who support the message and contribute with interviews and art.
The campaign Business Against Trafficking started in 2013, when RealStars initiated a collaboration with marketing managers and Caroline af Ugglas, which aims at companies taking up trafficking and sex buying on their Corporate Social Responsibility agenda. Later on, Hotel Against Trafficking is also launched by RealStars and currently engages six hotels in Sweden.
Another initiative of RealStars is Fair Sex: Online, which aims to protect young girls of sexual harassment in the virtual environment. The organization uses volunteers who turn to be fair sex agents online. If a girl reports sex abuse on the internet and social media, the agent can give advices and contact other fair sex agents and police.
The main target group of the organization are young girls and women who can potentially become victims of sex trafficking. The organization also puts many efforts to influence policy-makers to make changes in national legislations to prevent human trafficking and businesses to be more responsible and create protective environment for vulnerable groups.
The team of RealStars has met many challenges in persuading policy-makers, politician and the whole community about the problem of sex trafficking in Sweden and Europe. However, the team finds support from many companies and celebrities, who managed to bring Fair Sex messages to more people and accelerate the processes of adapting and improving EU legislations for preventing the spread of sex trafficking in Europe.
All funds that RealStars receives through donations and the sale of merchandise are put into the organization’s efforts to raise awareness, promote a political agenda and create change. This means that when somebody purchases one of RealStars’ products, or contributes to the organization in another manner, he enables the team to reach even further with their preventative measures.
The organization has, in a short period of time, showed its social impact using innovative methods and is now a front line NGO working both at national and EU level in order to create public awareness and involve all actors in society in the combat against sex trafficking.
The main lesson learnt is that only collective efforts can bring change in society and public policy. Raising awareness of contemporary pressing issues has to be the mission of not only NGOs but businesses as well. Corporate Social Responsibility can put in its agenda contemporary issues as sex trafficking in order to preserve the freedom of people.
RealStars are an influential organization in Sweden. There initiatives reach national and international coverage. Their model of work can be transferred to other regions and to be focused on other pressing issues in the country.
The model used by the RealStars’ team can be replicated in other countries, in which sex trafficking exists. As a global phenomenon, in many country, similar organizations can raise awareness on sex trafficking, especially protection of women and children.
1. Website of RealStar: https://realstars.eu/en/.