Slaves In Our Midst

I’m reading a book called Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  It’s about women the world around being stolen, raped, trafficked and abused.  It’s also about their successes getting free from their captors, getting an education and turning their situations around. It’s a very inspiring book.

The United Nations International Labour Organization reports that at least 12.3 million people around the world are slaves.  Other nonprofit groups like Free the Slaves say that there are 27 million slaves in the world. Last Friday was the United Nations International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, marking the date in 1949 when the UN adopted a resolution for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.

The UN explains the different types of slavery like this. “Forced labour takes different forms, including debt bondage, trafficking and other forms of modern slavery. The victims are the most vulnerable – women and girls forced into prostitution, migrants trapped in debt bondage, and sweatshop or farm workers kept there by clearly illegal tactics and paid little or nothing.”

Some of those slaves are children and the UN estimates that around 215 million children around the world work. Of those, more than half are exposed to the worst forms of child labour such as work in hazardous environments, slavery, or other forms of forced labour, illicit activities including drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.

Women or children that try to break free from their situations are beaten or otherwise abused.  The ones in Half the Sky who make it out are helped by compassionate individuals often with the help of charities like Free the Slaves.   

Sometimes the women are given drugs so they’ll be compliant in having sex with their customers. Then if they run away or are rescued, they have to overcome addictions to the drugs.  Their families may reject them because of the work they’ve done or because the pimps may come after them and try to get the girl back especially if they have paid something for her. The girls are often rejected by other men because of what they’ve done so they must get vocational training or education to do something to support themselves. It’s a difficult and perplexing problem. 

One of the charities that is working to solve this problem in the United States is Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) out of New York.  It provides crisis care, court advocacy, transitional housing and educational support to women, ages 12–24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking.  Meant for More Apparel is supporting GEMS through December 11 with a 20 percent donation of profits to GEMS.  GEMS also has its own shop.

Made by Survivors also has a shop of items for sale that are created by survivors of slavery at shelters around the world.  Made by Survivors currently pays for 200 child survivors and children born into brothel communities to attend school. If you want to see what these brothel communities are like through the eyes of children, you can watch an Academy Award winning video about the red light district of Calcutta.     

Learning about these situations is heartbreaking, but it’s not the end.  People like Kevin Bales and Peggy Callahan who founded Free the Slaves and Rachel Lloyd who was commercially sexually exploited as a teenager and founded GEMS provide opportunities for everyone to make a difference.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Me, Myself and Why

One More Time, OK, Maybe Two