Shackling the traffickers

Modern slavery is big business. It’s estimated that there are 40.3 million victims of modern slavery worldwide, and human trafficking – in forced labour, sexual slavery, and drug trafficking – has a profound impact on industries and communities, as well as the mental and physical health of its victims. Organisations like Stop The Traffic are working with IBM to use advanced data sharing to disrupt the trade at its source. We commissioned photographer Levon Biss to create a powerful image that shows how IBM’s data analysis is casting a glimmer of light on this darkest of trades. Using a cold, abandoned warehouse and hundreds of cardboard boxes we created a haunting visual of a nameless, faceless individual, identifiable only by a barcode imprinted on his neck. Our light cast on the barcode demonstrates both how the trade treats people as objects to be traded, and IBM’s role in using this data to stop human trafficking in the future. This contrast – data that serves a humane purpose – aligns perfectly with IBM brand mission: to create innovations that matter to the world. This image was Art Directed by Chris Agius Burke and published in The Sunday Times Magazine in print and digital on 19th May 2019.


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