Tuesday, January 11, 2011

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today we're gonna do something a little bit different.

I realize this is not a "fun" post, but it's about an issue that is near and dear to my heart and I feel is beyond imperative to share with you. In fact, I really feel that for someone to know me, they need to know that I care about this more than I could ever begin to express. So, please take the time to read about what I feel is truly the greatest violation of human rights of our time. Ready? This one is about:
Human Trafficking
also know as

I found out recently that 99% of people don't even KNOW about the existence of human trafficking and I decided that I will NOT let me readers contribute to that statistic.
Before we get into the facts, I want to encourage you and tell you that YOU have the power to change the world, to love your neighbors and to FREE SLAVES by using your voice. Knowledge is the first step and I pray that you'll take that first step to help join the fight by reading this post. 

What is human trafficking?
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime human trafficking is defines as follows:

Trafficking in Persons is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

Slavery? That doesn't happen anymore, does it?
Well, I wish the answer was no, but it happens not just in dirty little third world countries, but in literally every country on the globe -- including the United States of America. In fact, it happens in your back yard.

How many people are we talking here?
Right now there is a conservatively estimated 27 million people enslaved in the world--forced to work slave labor, have organs removed, or work as a sex worker against their will. 27 MILLION. Think about that for a minute. It's also estimated that there are over 200,000 women (most of them minors) working as sex workers against their will. Often sex workers are forced to perform in live sex shows, turn as many as 30 tricks a night and/or create pornography. These people are treated as commodities and are thrown away when no longer "useful" to traffickers.

Who gets trafficked?
Literally every "type" of person is and can be trafficked. Those who are most vulnerable to trafficking are children and those living in poverty--however, young girls from nice neighborhoods are victimized as well. 80% of slaves in the world are female and 50% of all slaves are CHILDREN. Statistics show that with in 48 hours of running away from home a child will encounter a trafficker. Most other victims are abducted (these stories happen far more often than you think) or tricked into a lifestyle they don't want and can't leave. 

Who makes money in trafficking?
The people who profit from human trafficking are mostly organized crime members. In other words, the primary monetary benefactors are either in gangs, in the mafia, sometimes policemen, or, although more rarely, criminals disguised as small "business" owners. In fact, the slave trade brings in $3,000,000,000 a year (that's three billion) and is the fastest growing illegal sales trade second only to drug trafficking. (Yes, there is more money made in people selling men, women and children than illegal weapons.)
    How do I spot a victim of human trafficking?
    Pretty you haven't encountered this? Well, the sad fact is that unless you've been living under a rock, you probably have encountered slavery, yes, in your nice little town and could have done something about it. Click HERE to learn more about spotting victims.

      What can you and I do to stop trafficking?
      The good news, in fact, the shining light among all of this seemingly debilitated 
      • Program this number into your cell and CALL IT if you see anything suspicious  
      • Stop buying products made by slaves
      • This is BIG ONE: Focus on perpetrators - Johns.
      • Get educated (reading the book Not for Sale or watching the movie Taken is great places to start!)
      • Take a stand against pornography (yes, even "willing" participants significantly contribute to the demand for trafficking) and other forms of sexual exploitation
      • Tell you representatives you care about ending human trafficking
      • Share THIS ARTICLE with your husband, male friends and other guys you know
      • Talk to you kids about it
      • Join or start a local abolitionists group
      • Don't be quite
      Check out other resources:
      Not For Sale
      International Justice Mission
      Polaris Project

      And I thought I'd throw this in here because I think this woman, who was once a victim herself, is a true hero and someone I look towards for inspiration.

      So, I write and share all of this not to be a downer (for, in all honesty our blogs focus on the fun, pretty things in life and rarely dwell on the ugly things in life) but to upset you enough to inspire you to do something to help end trafficking. I hope you're outraged enough to save a life. I hope you'll take some time to learn more and do whatever you can, big or small, to spread awareness and help end the absolute travesty that is human trafficking. Consider the stories of the men and women above. What if it was you? What if she was your child? What would you like a woman sitting in her comfy home to do about your suffering?

      "Modern day slavery is only exists because we choose to ignore it."


      Chrissy said...

      Oh wow, I think it is amazing that you wrote this! It is so important to help! I have read a lot about this and am a member of a non-profit organization to help and stop this kind of slavery!!
      Thanks for opening eyes!
      How awesome!

      Emily said...

      What a brilliant post, and you've written so well to draw attention to such an important issue. Will definitely link to this in my next blog post.xx

      CarrieJo said...

      Thanks for sharing this!

      Jenni Austria Germany said...

      i agree with you that so many people are unaware. and living in europe, i've had some scary moments before...people say the movie Taken is unrealistic and yes, some of it is but I fully believe that girls get taken all the time in Paris (where I had a terrifying experience). i hope this post wakes some people up.

      Meghan said...

      Great post! Thank you for posting this!

      lindsay said...

      hi nicole! thank you so much for posting this for all of us to see. i know you and i exchanged a few emails back and forth on this issue and to read all of these facts is so daunting. i can't even believe that this can be happening right before our eyes and we don't even know it.

      to be honest i never really thought deeply about the issue until you and i discussed this. thank you for opening my eyes to this. thank you for helping me realize that this is a true issue...a true problem that needs to be fixed immediately. the numbers are staggering and it sounds like they will continue to rise until we do something about it.

      it is obvious that this problem is near and dear to your heart. thank you for educating us today and making us aware of this tragedy.

      Rachel said...

      Wow. Awesome post! So what is your job you have? Do you work with Public Health, bc I think our interests are so similar! I was supposed to come back to Nashville after I graduated & do my internship there this summer...but I am now staying out west so my husband can finish school. I'm so glad you found me & that we can be blog friends! Your blog is great & entertaining, I'm excited to follow it!

      ChinkyGirLMeL said...

      Oh wow, very interesting post. Thanks for sharing this with us.

      Raj said...

      This is a fantastic post, your writing is fabulous and its obvious you care a lot about the issue, and really we all should.
      Thank you for spreading the word that such horrific things are allowed to happen in the world and that we can put a stop to it. A wonderfully enlightening post

      LeeLee said...

      More power to you!! People need to become more informed, so they know how to prevent/stop these tragedies! This is a great post! <3

      Becka said...

      your "Click HERE to learn more about spotting victims" doesnt have a link attached to it?

      Parisbreakfasts said...

      Thank you so much for this Nicole!
      Very important reading.

      Claire Kiefer said...

      I think it's amazing that you're highlighting this issue. The godmother of one of the kids I babysit for, Grace Kahng, has made several documentaries about sex slavery. They come on tv a lot--Sex Slaves in America, Sex Slaves in the Suburbs, etc. They're incredible . . . devastating, but it's so important for people to recognize that this kind of thing still exists. Glad to have found your blog; following you now! :)

      Stephania said...

      Thank you SO much for writing about this. I first read the entry several weeks ago and had no idea the scope of human trafficking. Reading this was REALLY eye opening. I have since seen the movie "Trade" and between that and your blog I was paralyzed by the horror. I have begun and will continue to pray for the victims and participants and will continue to spread awareness. God bless you!!!

      Milly said...


      I am starting a residential treatment facility working with women rescued out of human trafficking. I would like to ask permission to use the photo of the prostitute in the tunnel in a powerpoint to spread awareness & raise support.

      Also, if you have any other information about this photo, I will share it with the dialog.