eLiberare: Safer Futures From Human Trafficking

Ioana Bauer

“As women, we’re very critical of ourselves and we like to have everything figured out before we start something… but if you’re a reluctant leader, if you’re not sure that you should be doing something, that doesn’t disqualify you, it just means that you understand the responsibility and the weight of the things that you’re taking on.”

Ioana Bauer – President of eLiberare, Romania

2020 WE Empower Finalist, Europe, North America, & Other

Human trafficking is one of the world’s most horrific crimes, yet it still takes place even today in our modern age. Ioana Bauer is leading the fight against human trafficking and exploitation through eLiberare, a non-profit based in Romania that focuses on educating youth and first responders on the dangers of human trafficking and how to effectively counter it. WE Empower intern, Sidney McKee, interviewed Bauer and explains how eLiberare is making a difference in preventing human trafficking not only in Romania, but also around the world.

Bauer is leading eLiberare in the modern fight against human trafficking. As she detailed, “Romania is one of the main source countries for victims of human trafficking within the European Union”. Through education, Bauer is assisting young people, who are oftentimes the victims of human trafficking. eLiberare education is available on how to identify red-flags and unsafe situations. Additionally, eLiberare also trains first responders in identifying instances of human trafficking and how to appropriately help victims to get out of these dangerous situations. 

Protecting Gender Equality

It is an unfortunate reality, but women are often targets for human trafficking. Through forced labor and sex slavery, young women are being exploited and robbed of their most basic rights. eLiberare fights to arm women with a voice and lets them know that they are not alone and that their treatment will not be tolerated. Bauer explained, “Human trafficking still remains one of the greatest forms of gender-based violence”. eLiberare aims to foster a community of care, where human trafficking is ended and SDG 5 Gender Equality brought to fruition in devastated communities, not only in Romania but around the world. In terms of societal development and modernization, Bauer explained: “It’s one of those aspects in which humanity hasn’t evolved on actually.”

Allowing Decent Work and Economic Growth

By rescuing victims who are subjected to the horrors of human trafficking, people are freed to live their lives on their own accord. Even though scars may never go away, guiding victims to find their way to freedom is a goal of eLiberare and a first step in empowering them to heal. Instead of acting as forced labor for unfathomably barbaric practices, those who are liberated from the modern slavery of human trafficking can pursue career opportunities, integrate into their community and support SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth. Bauer explained, “We’re about empowering people, but we’re empowering people to free people.”

Fostering Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

With the atrocities of human trafficking and slavery that are strangling the world, it is essential that an evolution of law and justice take place. Bauer explained, “Currently, at a global level, human trafficking is still a very lucrative business unless we ensure justice for everyone”. Without effective legislation and enforcement methods, human traffickers remain incentivized to continue committing the world’s most heinous crimes, destroying the lives of their victims, and leaving parents forever mourning the loss of their children. This is why eLiberare vibrantly emphasis the importance of and furthers SDG 16 Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. As Bauer highlighted, “We need to make sure that prosecution works so sentences are being given out where traffickers are actually kept behind bars.”

As a leader paving the way for freedom, justice, and equality, Ioana Bauer serves as a beacon of hope in a struggle as ancient as humanity. To aspiring changemakers, Bauer understands that starting out and finding your voice can be daunting. “Being a leader is something that is challenging, and it’s going to stay challenging for as long as you strive to be a good one. It’s a continuous process of improving yourself and investing in others.”