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Kiwi Leading the Fight Against Human Trafficking at Olympics

With global attention on the Tokyo Olympics, Kiwi businesswoman and Chair of charity It’s a Penalty, Katherine Corich, is working to highlight the risk of exploitation, abuse, and human trafficking at worldwide sporting events.


It’s a Penalty is currently streaming a public service announcement above Shibuya in Tokyo, the world’s busiest intersection, urging people to identify and report signs of human trafficking. The video features Olympians such as Usain Bolt and is seen by 1.4 million people everyday.


Corich, who is a former UK New Zealander of the Year and Founder of the business consultancy Sysdoc, says that major sporting events are a crucial time to raise awareness of exploitation and trafficking.


“The excitement, distraction and movement of events like the Olympics provides ample opportunity for exploitation and trafficking. However, it’s also a great opportunity to educate, equip, and encourage sports fans with the right tools and information to stand up against the issue.”


It’s a Penalty has been involved in the last seven Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Rugby, Football and Cricket World Cups and Superbowls. In 2019 its Miami Superbowl campaign brought five law enforcement agencies together, and with the help of athlete endorsement resulted in 22 survivors rescued, 47 traffickers arrested, and 4 missing children found.


As a partner of It’s a Penalty, the Sysdoc team based in New Zealand and the UK provide design thinking expertise in setting the charity’s strategy, and implementing action across multiple agencies and law enforcers.


“For myself, CEO Sarah de Carvahlo, and the team, working with decision makers in Japan to achieve a cultural shift in acknowledging this issue and then getting fully behind it - is a career highlight.”


She says its important to work with governments and citizens to build awareness around human trafficking and exploitation, especially as no country is exempt from its realities.


“Our discussions in Japan have been two years in the making. It is wonderful to see what transformation is possible when you can achieve cross-system thinking and action.”


It’s a Penalty's mission is to free the 24.9 million people who are trapped in exploitation and trafficking around the world, one-third of which are children. Since 2014, It’s a Penalty has protected 16,955 survivors.

On average, each campaign impacts 180 million people worldwide.


It’s a Penalty also run an ongoing campaign featuring star of the movie series Taken, Liam Neeson, to spread awareness about the signs of human trafficking.

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