Posts Tagged ‘human sexual trafficking’

Games for Change–Having an Impact Isn’t All Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Nicholas Kristof, NY Times über-journalist, Pulitzer Prize winner, and co-author of the outstanding and inspirational Half the Sky (like a burr under your saddle inspirational–you cannot sit still after reading it) book–with wife, co-author, and fellow Pulitzer winner, Sheryl WuDunn…are launching an online game to make a difference in the world.

Partnering with Games for Change, this couple is tackling gaming as a means of education and awareness. The yet-to-be-named game will be somewhat like Farmville, and played predominantly via facebook and other social media, and will raise awareness of global crises. The release, later this year to coordinate with the PBS broadcast of the filmed version of Half the Sky (did I mention you MUST read that book? Seriously), will bring a keen focus on women’s issues of injustice and oppression around the world. I follow Nick on facebook and both of them on Twitter–and their unwavering commitment to human rights is truly a model for us all (Nick is currently in Switzerland covering the World Economic Forum, and putting heavy pressure on sexual trafficking enablers here in the US—Hello Village Voice Backpage.com!—and abroad).

A description of the upcoming game says, “Players will be able to buy virtual goods in the game with real currency that will then go to NGOs and aid organizations around the world…Players will also be able to contribute to causes without paying money, for example by completing virtual missions that add them to advocacy campaigns or other efforts.”

While you’re waiting to change the world by playing games…go read that book!!! (and then tell me what you’re going to do about the inequities in this world. You’ll be seething with anger and energy that you can put to brilliant use toward a cause that matters to you–let me know what it is)

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.