Recently I was asked by someone I know from my hometown, through Facebook, if I still give talks on human trafficking issues. What evolved from my affirmative answer was a whirlwind of phone conversations on her end to get me to be the speaker to 20-30 people in one month. (my guess is their other featured speaker must have cancelled on them at the last minute) On my end I wrote the following to convince the promoters of this event and eventually the audience participants that I mean business. I will be paid by some federal grant for my gas mileage, hotel and meals and speaker’s fee. I hope that I can do this two day conference justice. Surely they have many speakers in the Twin Cities who can talk on this subject rather than getting me from five hours away.
In any case, I will go and do the best I can in 90 minutes to convince those in attendance that this is a plague amongst all of us throughout the whole world. Not only domestic abuse and violence against women, but men and children are also enslaved. That is my main message. Slavery and using humans is an age old and troubling problem that has been with us for thousands of years. Wherever you have the powerful and dominating culture, you will also have the vulnerable and weak. Those in the middle need to rise up and do something about helping those who can’t help themselves. The abolitionists did it before with changing laws and trends, people like Wilberforce, worked within his sphere of influence. Surely we can do the same. Here is what I quick wrote based on what I had written earlier on this blog. My eyes had been opened up to this tragedy of human trafficking after living three plus years in Kazakhstan. For some inexplicable reason, this dreadful topic will not go away for me. I need to stay on the front lines to help in the fight.
“Modern-day traders in human property know their business inside out and respond to changes in the market with a speed unmatched by even the most competitive corporations. Their expertise and ability to exploit the market are surpassed only by their disregard for human life. Women are bought, sold and hired out like any other product. The bottom line is profit.”
We, as westerners, should NOT be complacent about human trafficking. I have seen with my own eyes the slavery mentality in countries I have lived in or visited from the Philippines, China, Hong Kong, to the countries of the former Soviet Union of Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. I have lived 15 years outside of my own country to know that human trafficking exists and is getting worse than ever. Maybe out of willful ignorance we do not care to know about those trapped in sex trafficking who need an outside advocate. Maybe it is because we think slavery was abolished since our “Civil” War in America, that it doesn’t exist elsewhere in the world? It does exist and the numbers of trafficked victims far exceed the total number of slaves during the hundreds of years of the trans-Atlantic trade from Africa to the U.S. My main question is: “Shouldn’t there be an all-out war and campaign against human trafficking?”
My answer as an educator is that I am convinced when people are presented the facts about human trafficking, they respond in wanting to help or donate in some way to alleviate the suffering. We must admit that we live in a privileged, first world environment that is comfortable while many languish in poverty and grab at any opportunity that will possibly help them out. In my presentations that I give about human trafficking, I set forth some of the things I have learned along the way about child soldiers, child labor, building construction, tobacco/cotton fields, begging in streets, forced marriages, surrogate maternity, harvesting organs, pornography and prostitution. Whoever listens to what I have learned, will come away knowing that this is not just a war against women but men and children as well. They will also find out there is hope because there are international organizations (i.e. Polaris Project, Freeset, Remember Nu, Not for Sale, etc.) which are mobilized to do something about trafficking. We are NOT alone in this fight against human trafficking.