The reality, sadly, comes not just closer to home but right into my home….Slavery globally touches not only my heart, but quite probably my table, my car, my clothing.”
Julia Ormond, UN goodwill ambassador on human trafficking
Victim Story #1
Ibrahim from Mali was 11, and dreamed of buying a bicycle. A man he had known for some time told him that he could work on a cocoa farm and make enough money for a bicycle, radio, clothes and more, Ibrahim didn’t suspect the man to be a trafficker. The man took Ibrahim to Cote d’Ivoire and sold him to a cocoa farmer. Ibrahim and other trafficked boys worked long hours doing back-breaking and dangerous work farming cocoa and bananas. The farmer gave them little to eat, beat them severely, and forbade them from leaving the farm. Ibrahim suffered in forced labor for two years before he escaped and returned to Mali. He now works in a market garden but still doesn’t earn enough to buy a bicycle.
I just spent the past three days reading every word of the 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report. It was horrifying and painful and honestly should be required reading on every college campus across this country. I forced myself to read every word of all 324 pages. It discusses everything from the role of parents in the trafficking of children to buying or negotiating a victim’s freedom. This is not light reading, but it is important reading. The victim stories highlighted in this post were examples of real cases found in the report. SO let me share with you what I learned:
An estimated 27 million people are enslaved. TODAY. There are more than 27 million slaves in the world today. That is more than at the height of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
This is not just over there…you know across the ocean, we have enslaved people living in this country right now. There are thousands who are trapped in various forms of enslavement, here in our country oftentimes young women who are caught up in prostitution. Human trafficking is a multi-dimensional issue. It is a crime that deprives people of their human rights and freedoms, increases global health risks, and fuels growing networks of organized crime. The impacts of human trafficking are devastating. Victims suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, and even death. But the devastation extends beyond individual victims; human trafficking undermines the health, safety, and security of nations.
No country is immune.
The common denominator of trafficking scenarios is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit a person for profit. Traffickers can subject victims to labor exploitation, sexual exploitation, or both. Trafficking for labor exploitation, the form of trafficking claiming the greatest number of victims, includes traditional chattel slavery, forced labor, and debt bondage. Trafficking for sexual exploitation typically includes abuse within the commercial sex industry. Sometimes, individuals exploit victims in private homes, often demanding both sex and work. The use of force or coercion can be direct and violent or psychological. This is happening everyday in fields, factories, homes, and brothels everywhere around the globe.
Victim Story #2
Jayati from India, and her husband were bonded laborers at a rice mill in India for more than 30 years. From 2 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, they separated and boiled rice, often suffering burns, injuries and illnesses. The owner of the mill threatened to hurt them if they tried to leave. Their children were forced to quit school and work alongside them in the mill. Their grandchildren were born into bonded servitude. In 2005, Jayati and her family were finally freed with the help of NGOs and local authorities. “I never dreamt of a day like this in my life,” she said after being freed.
As a result of the global fincial crisis, two trends have emerged —a shrinking global demand for labor and a growing supply of workers desperate for economic opportunities—seems a recipe for disaster and increased forced labor cases.
Victim Story #3
Shyima Hall, now 19, was kept in a windowless garage for two years. Shyima was 10 when a wealthy Egyptian couple brought her from a poor village in northern Egypt to work in their California home. She awoke before dawn and often worked past midnight to iron their clothes, mop the marble floors, and dust the family’s crystal. She earned $45 a month, sometimes working up to 20 hours a day. The trafficking of children for domestic labor in the United States is an extension of an illegal but common practice among the upper classes in some societies.
Honestly I can not talk about the stories I read of people enslaved so that they can give up their organs for the black market or child soldiers kidnapped from schools and forced to fight in local armed conflicts. I absolutely can not.
SO let me tell you what youcan do to help. Talk about it. Share this post and other web sites that help educate and activate others around this issue. Learn more and share that information with friends and family, church congregations and coworkers. Become a voice and advocate for the 27 million people enslaved today.
Become a force against trafficking. Go here and inform others about slavery in their backyard
If we all work together to become modern day abolitionist than trafficking networks can be dismantled and victims can recover their lives and thrive.