Posts Tagged ‘child sexual slavery’

18 for 18: Jump for Somaly Mam

18for18 banner 2_0I love simple ideas that catch the imagination on fire. 18 for 18 started three years ago when Serinda Swan decided to raise $18,000 to end human trafficking, by jumping from an airplane at 18,000 feet. A buck a foot. It’s smart, catchy, easy to remember so others will discuss at school or the water cooler or dinner table. The funds went to Somaly Mam Foundation—one of my faves—to continue the fight to end modern day slavery. Now, three years down the road, and there are multiple events and celebrity supporters. August 10 is the event in New York, and August 17 in Santa Barbara, and there are also jumps in Australia and Canada. The jumpers will collectively raise $100,000 this year (probably much more), which will cover two years of rescue costs and support partners in Cambodia to free women and girls sold into the sex trade.

Girls in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos are sold for about $50 to brothels, where they can be forced to service up to 25-30  clients per day. The youngest sex slave freed by the Somaly Mam organization was only two years old. You can jump and support (100% of the proceeds go directly to SMF) and absolutely find out much more about the work of the Somaly Mam Foundation and the amazing woman for which it is named.

 

 

KONY 2012–Make Him Famous

Please watch this and spread it around. When this half-hour video started showing up on facebook and Twitter via friends, I was intrigued, but told myself I didn’t have 30 minutes to watch some video.

I do have that time. You do, too. Please watch and act and share and talk about it. It matters.

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Tomorrow, January 11, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. If you’ve been a long-time reader of my blog I’ve certainly rattled this cage many times–there are more slaves right now than at any other time in history–here in the United States as well as internationally. Children and adults, in the sex trade, garment workers, agriculture workers, housework, construction laborers…indentured servants, sexual slaves, entire families in debt bondage. Tomorrow is a day to talk about it (as is every day), to shine light on this shameful fact of our life. Presidential hopefuls are campaigning but will never mention this (at least one portion of the issue is too fraught with unpopular opinions about illegal immigration and cheap, next-to-free labor picking our food for our dinner tables). Sexual slavery clientele–the end user of that “product” if you will, is practically a codified part of Washington wink-wink-and-a-knowing-glance life in some good ol’ boy networks. (But please never think it is a regional problem–it is worldwide where kids are sold into prostitution on the streets, in brothels, and over the Internet).

ATEST (the Alliance To End Slavery and Trafficking) wants us to talk about it and keep talking about it. Give our business to those who defy the system of slavery (travel and tourism are some of the areas where this comes into play most)…look to The Code (by ECPAT–End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) to make travel decisions–these tourism businesses have signed a pledge to actively fight against modern-day slavery and trafficking of children.

You truly can make a difference with the way you spend and travel. So in addition to going on a volunteer vacation to change the world for the better with your involvement on a project, make sure that the sources and suppliers in your personal consumption chain make a difference as well.

That’s Two per Minute…

Every 26 seconds, another child somewhere is being lured in to the sex trade or slavery. Two million underage kids are forced into having sex with adults, perhaps multiple times each day.

Forty bucks can mean freedom for more kids. The 26 Seconds challenge asks us to donate $40 to Destiny Rescue to continue their international work freeing children from sexual slavery and trafficking. You get a necklace out of the deal, and if you can get just two of your family members and friends to take action as well, and we keep it going for fifteen levels–that’s a million bucks toward ending child slavery in our lifetime.

The project is, in addition to in-the-field rescue work and advocacy, in the process of building a work studio that can employ hundreds of rescued children in Thailand (children are sometimes sold into slavery situations by parents who cannot afford to feed them, and the price they fetch as a commodity helps the remaining family members eat for a few more days). While child labor elicits all sorts of reactions from us, there are instances where the alternative is far worse, and children working is a necessary evil for survival.

Get involved.

Save a life. And another. And another. Two kids lost every minute of every day–that cannot be…

Polaris Project—Fighting Slavery Today

It is the second largest, and fastest growing, criminal industry in our world, and yes, slavery is happening “over there” even now…but it is happening “over here” too…right now…today.

The Polaris Project is named for the North Star, Polaris, that guided slaves toward freedom along the Underground Railroad, and is an organization that is committed to combating human trafficking and modern day slavery. There are several great organizations committed to ending slavery and trafficking, this one with operations based in Washington DC, Newark, NJ, and Tokyo, Japan. Polaris Project is one of the few organizations working on all forms of trafficking and serving both citizen and foreign national victims of human trafficking. Their comprehensive approach includes direct outreach and victim identification, providing social services and transitional housing to victims, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC—the central national hotline on human trafficking), advocating for stronger state and Federal anti-trafficking legislation, training law enforcement and service providers, and engaging community members in local and national grassroots efforts.

The U.S. State Department estimates that 14,500-17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked illegally into this country each year for the sex trade or as involuntary servants. That is just the number of foreign slaves brought to the United States every year. The numbers are, of course, much higher on the international scale, and US statistics also rise when you include US citizens who are forced into modern day slavery—worldwide the numbers are at about twenty-seven million. 50% of the victims are children, under the age of 18, and 80% of the victims are female. Children pushed into the sex trade are forced into prostitution by the age of 12-14 years old…and this is a late start for some who begin being professionally assaulted before their age hits double digits.

The Polaris Project Action Center has ways for you to get involved. Don’t be a passive bystander while this continues, and grows. There are volunteer opportunities as well as action alerts and advocacy suggestions to help spread the word, lobby for change, and turn this unconscionable situation around. Take a stand.

We’ve Run Out of Visas for Crime Victims

Immigration is an issue that grabs people’s spirit close to the root—I find people getting passionate about the issue more than I’d expect, and from that passion and oftentimes, anger, rash decisions get made and harsh laws get enacted. I don’t know how to defuse the level of heels-dug-in irrationality (on both sides, I fear), but I do, personally, find this situation untenable.

Since 2007 (and how absurd is it that it took us until 2007?), the United States has created a particular visa, called a U Visa, for undocumented victims of violent crime, sexual assault, and human trafficking, who cooperate with legal authorities to capture the perpetrators of the crimes against them. You can imagine how often victims of sexual assault and human slavery/trafficking (an epidemic here in the US as well as around the world) are told by kidnappers/pimps/etc that if they go to the authorities they’ll be deported and/or imprisoned. Most are so fearful of the US Immigration repercussions that they put up with violent assault or ongoing slavery/trafficking (and we are often talking about kids here–10, 11, 12 years old, too many of them…and of course, in many of these cases, it is the trafficker that has brought the victim into this country against their will and undocumented).

So this victims visa, the U Visa, can really help cut down on violent crime and trafficking…BUT… the government has a cap and only allows a certain number of the U Visas to be issued per year…and they are all used up! When the new fiscal year begins in October, the next year’s U Visas can be granted, but between now and then? Tough luck victims. I’m sure somebody somewhere thought that putting an arbitrary cap on the number of these visas made sense, but I sure don’t see the logic. For the individual victim of violent crime, it really doesn’t matter how many before you were also victimized. It is so clearly, to me at least, a case of bizarre randomness being made into law based on statistics instead of humanity.

From Change.org: “Think about it this way: 10,000 victims visas means 10,000 violent criminals who law enforcement is able to investigate and prosecute. We should offer as many visas as there are victims, to protect both those individuals and the public from as many dangerous criminals as possible. Sign this petition to tell Congress to eliminate the arbitrary cap on crime victims visas.

Somaly Mam

Somaly Mam is one of the most extraordinary women with the most extraordinary stories I’ve ever heard. She was born into a family struggling with extreme poverty in Cambodia. In addition to economic despair, her family was an oppressed ethnic minority forced to make unspeakable decisions to survive. Somaly was sold into sexual slavery by a man posing s her grandfather. She was raped and tortured on a daily basis as she worked in a brothel alongside other young children, and when her closest friend was murdered in front of her, she found a way to do the impossible and escaped her captors. Ever since she has dedicated her life to saving victims and empowering survivors of the very current, and sadly thriving, slave trade.

She has, in the years following her liberating herself, come to great prominence for her tireless work and: ” is now a renowned leader at the forefront of the anti-trafficking struggle. Universally recognized as a visionary for her courage, dignity, ingenuity, and resilience, Somaly was honored as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009 and was featured as a CNN Hero. She is also the recipient of the Prince of Austria’s Award for International Cooperation, The World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child (WCPRC), Glamour Magazine’s 2006 Woman of the Year Award, and has won accolades from the US Department of Homeland Security.”

The Somaly Mam Foundation is a charitable organization committed to ending human trafficking in North American and around the world. DO NOT, for one minute, think that this is a problem that only happens “over there.” Over two million women and children are sold into slavery every year–and the business is growing. The Somaly Mam Foundations works many paths: rescue and recovery, education, reintegration, voices for change, advocacy, and global awareness.

You can get involved from home and in the field. Make the buck stop here, and stand for the vision of the Somaly Mam Foundation and its heroic founder: A world where women and children are safe from slavery.