Ivanka Trump’s World Day Against Trafficking Instagram Post Made One Huge Mistake
To celebrate World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the president's eldest daughter moved to highlight the hard work of those seeking to end the practice and aid survivors. But Ivanka Trump's Day Against Trafficking Instagram post went awry when she misidentified the woman she meant to honor in the photo.
UPDATE: Shortly after this article was published, Ivanka changed the caption of her Instagram post to read: “On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, meet Blessing Okoedion, whose tireless work in Italy ensures survivors, especially Nigerian women and girls, have access to the services they need to heal and reintegrate into society. Blessing’s voice and leadership is critical in the fight to #EndTrafficking.”
EARLIER: "On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, meet #TIPHero Francisca Awah Mbuli," Ivanka wrote Monday in an Instagram caption posted alongside a photo of her and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo honoring the State Department's 2018 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report Heroes earlier this year.
But the woman in the photo Ivanka posted to Instagram isn't Awah Mbuli. It's Blessing Okoedion. Both women were honored as 2018 TIP Report Heroes and posed for a photo with Ivanka and Pompeo when receiving their award in late June. However, here's a photo provided by the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that shows Awah Mbuli and here's one of Okoedion.
Although the print appears small in the photo of Blessing posing between Ivanka and Pompeo, it's worth noting that the certificate they're all photographed holding says Okoedion's name.
The White House did not immediately return Bustle's request for a comment.
While the photo used in her Instagram post was one of Okeodion, Ivanka's caption went on to highlight Awah Mbuli's work to aid survivors of human trafficking in Cameroon. "Francisca is a survivor of human trafficking and the founding director of Survivors' Network, a Cameroonian NGO," she wrote. "Thanks to Francisca's hard work + dedication, she has provided counseling to over 500 victims of trafficking & has helped create economic opportunities for survivors across Cameroon."
The State Department also noted last month that through Survivor's Network, Awah Mbuli has, since 2015, helped 28 women originally from areas of West and Central Africa free themselves from situations of forced labor in the Middle East.
And Okeodion? According to the State Department, she too is a survivor of sex trafficking. Originally from Nigeria, she now advocates for survivors of human trafficking in Italy as they are reintegrated into society. "Okoedion plays an integral role in pushing Italian authorities to ensure that survivors, especially Nigerian women and girls, receive the services they deserve during their healing process and that law enforcement and service providers engage with survivors in an increasingly culturally informed, victim-centered manner," a State Department report on its 2018 TIP Heroes noted. She also works in her home country to educate women and young girls who may be especially at risk of falling victim to human trafficking about how to detect a trafficker's recruitment tactics.
To her credit, Ivanka has correctly identified Okeodion before. Earlier this month she retweeted a similar picture of herself, Okeodion, and Pompeo along with a message of encouragement and thanks. "Thank you Blessing for your courageous and dedicated work to #EndTrafficking," she tweeted. "You are an inspiration to us all! Keep fighting! We are with you."
Both Okeodion and Awah Mbuli's accomplishments deserve praise and it's no wonder that Ivanka sought to highlight their important work on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. And while Ivanka's Instagram mixup was likely a mere oversight, the misidentification is still a bummer for the two women.