In Colombia, beauty pageant contestants get involved in fighting human trafficking

10.09.2010 11:46

8 September 2010 - Beauty contests are glitzy affairs where many young women's hopes of making it to prestigious catwalks soar. With their eyes fixed on events like New York Fashion Week (opening tomorrow), would-be models from all over the world flock to local beauty competitions, unaware that some of them are organized by traffickers interested in exploiting their dreams.

In Colombia, organized criminals have clearly taken advantage of the national obsession with beauty pageants: a study conducted in 2009 by the National University of Colombia, the Ministry of the Interior and of Justice and UNODC found that modelling and beauty competitions were the most widely employed means used by traffickers to lure young women into exploitative situations, including for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

In an effort to keep participants in modelling and beauty competitions safe from traffickers, in March 2010 the Colombian Government and UNODC teamed up with Elite modelling agency in an innovative awareness-raising project that involved selecting a representative for Colombia in the Elite Model Look International Competition.

During the selection process, more than 750 participants and 176 parents were given vital information on how to identify possible cases of trafficking, how to reduce exposure to this crime and how to advise on existing anti-trafficking mechanisms, such as hotlines.

Participants were also given specially designed bracelets bearing the words "I fight against trafficking" to symbolize their commitment to the cause. Young people aged between 14 and 21 years participated in casting tours held in 15 Colombian cities, including Monteria, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Medellín, Bogotá, Cartagena and Cali.

The project was launched in parallel with a screening of the movie trailer for Human Trafficking, starring actress Mira Sorvino, UNODC Goodwill Ambassador for the fight against trafficking in persons, and culminated on 1 September 2010, when the winner of the Elite Model Look International Competition was announced. The winner will use her crown to promote messages on human trafficking throughout the country.

UNODC Colombia has a long history of establishing private-public partnerships to raise awareness about trafficking in persons. In early 2004, in cooperation with a Colombian private news and entertainment channel, a soap opera entitled Todos Quieren con Marilyn was produced and broadcast in Colombia for a year. In 2008, the documentary Slaves of Our Days was produced in partnership with a private entertainment channel and broadcast widely.

Since 2003, UNODC in Colombia has worked closely with the Colombian Government to combat human trafficking. A project was designed to assist authorities in developing and implementing a comprehensive national anti-trafficking strategy and victims statute, and to support the criminal justice system in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of trafficking.

In 2005, the Colombian Government adopted a comprehensive law against trafficking in persons in line with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.


Debbie Marulanda


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"Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions and the actions which speak louder than words. It is making the time when there is none. It is coming through time after time, year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of, the power to change the face of things. It is the triumph of integrity over skepticism".

~Abraham Lincoln






Helping victims of human trafficking is as simple as talking to a friend. Host an event and invite the community to discuss the exploitation of human beings. At this campaign, we are eager to spread the word and we'd like to talk at any community event about human trafficking and victim identification.

For more information, contact us at


Trafficking in Persons Report 2016


Date: 06/30/2016 Description: Trafficking in Persons Report 2016. - State Dept Image











PDF Format

-Trafficking in Persons Report 2016 -- Complete Report (PDF)
-Introductory Material (PDF)
-Country Narratives: A-C (PDF)
-Country Narratives: D-I (PDF)
-Country Narratives: J-M (PDF)
-Country Narratives: N-S (PDF)
-Country Narratives: T-Z and Special Case (PDF)
-Relevant International Conventions/Closing Material (PDF)




These are some of the things you can do to help fight human trafficking:

Be informed! Educate yourself about human trafficking by reading about it. Follow events in the news. Keep your eyes open - human trafficking is happening all around us.

Raise awareness! Talk to friends, family and colleagues. You could even start talking to your local politicians and authorities.

Get involved! Participate in an anti-trafficking movement in your area and get involved in its activities and campaigns (e.g. hold events, distribute posters, leaflets etc.) in your neighborhood and in schools.

Encourage businesses! Be a responsible consumer! Inform yourself on the labour policies of companies to ensure their products are free from slave labour and other forms of exploitation. If possible, buy fair trade products.

Seek support! If you suspect that someone has been trafficked report it to the institutions or assistance facilities dealing with human trafficking in your area.


Office to Monitor and

Combat Trafficking

in Persons


"It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name -- modern slavery."

– President Barack OBAMA

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