In the popular movie Taken, Bryan Mills’ daughter is abducted and sold into sex trafficking. The rest of the film shows Mills taking down everyone in his path in order to find his daughter.
Many people have this movie as their only frame of reference when it comes to human trafficking. Americans think that this only happens overseas and does not happen here in our own towns and cities across our country. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Yvonne Williams, founder of Trafficking in America Task Force spoke at East Carolina University last Thursday as part of a Passport event conducted by the ECU Honors College. She spoke on how trafficking is a huge problem in America as well as around the world. She made a significant point during her lecture. Many victims of domestic minor sex trafficking, in the United States and the rest of the world, come from fatherless homes.
Now let’s think about this. Americans, most often than not, assume that the parents of these children and teenagers, who go missing, are seeking out their children. Their fathers much like Bryan Mills in Taken, are hunting for them, just not in the same unrealistic manner portrayed in the film. These fathers of trafficked children are pursuing the criminals and trying to find their daughters and sons. We all assume, that they care and love their children and will do anything to help them.
So what happens to these children that do not have fathers? Who is going to come save them? What about those children who are orphaned? Those who do not have a caring family or a loving mother? What happens to them? Whose job is it to actively pursue the perpetrators and victims of domestic minor sex trafficking?
That responsibility is ours and I challenge those reading this post to think about it and take it upon yourselves to make a difference. To defend, pursue, and protect the often fatherless victims of human trafficking around the world. Do not assume someone else will because what will happen if that person does nothing?
– Margaret Morris, Intern and Federal Work Study Student for ENC Stop Human Trafficking Now
Since becoming the PR intern for Pam in August, I have learned and developed a deep sympathy for those who are trapped in to human trafficking. Before I started interning I really did not know much about human trafficking at all. One of the first times I really became aware was when Pam told me the NC is top 10 in the nation for human trafficking. After I became aware of this my prospective changed, I would be doing the newsletter looking for articles to use and I had no idea how often it occurs. It bothered me that I didn’t have to look far to find these cases, and it bothered me that websites would allow the use of making women something they can advertise. People don’t realize that these women are completely manipulated and abused, you hear cases all the time where the women thinks their pimp is their boyfriend. I also learned that good people like Pam are making people aware of the human trafficking hotline, which if the person calls some volunteers will actually go get the victim. I also learned that it’s not all about sex trafficking, slave labor is just as big of an issue. Companies like Godiva use slave labor and sweat shops to save on production, but it’s something you would never have heard about unless someone told you. Overall my experience has been great because although the issue bothers me, I’m glad I am aware and becoming active because I feel that God was very clear when he said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” I feel that if we can live our lives this way we can take huge strides in human trafficking like we already are.
My experience at ENCSHT this semester has been full of incredible experiences. A typical day will look something like this, I come every Tuesday and Thursday from 8-10 am, when I arrive I usually pick up where I left on the newsletter or I am researching or being told other things that would be good to add. That is mainly my job that I help Pam about with the most, as she is very busy. That is not at all where my limitations end, Pam has helped me gain confidence and do a short interview on the news and also she trusted me with doing a PSA on the local radio station. As a PR intern, these are the things I am looking to gain experience in. This semester I have learned how to correctly format pres releases, newsletters, emails and also I learned how to script write. Along with those things I also have experienced how to run a campaign for an event and how to run an event market stand. This semester I have been able to touch on several of the main skills that PR professionals have, I believe working with a non-profit gives me a huge advantage among others because I feel like I have the opportunity to do far more things and be well versed in my PR skills.
Generally speaking, “fair trade” means slave-free and child-labor free, which means that the person who made the product was not exploited. Further, it means the person was paid a fair, living wage for the country they live in.
So, in a nutshell, buying Fair Trade certified products is human trafficking prevention.
Let’s compare two Third World communities. Community 1: Everyone is struggling to earn enough so their families can eat. Parents can’t consider sending their children to school, because the children must work to help provide food for the family. Sometimes, that is still not enough. They may sell a daughter to provide income to feed the rest of the family. Or, believing the lies of an acquaintance who offers to educate the child “in the city”, they may allow their child to leave the community for “a better life”. Sadly, those children are usually sold to brothels or labor traffickers and are almost never heard from again.
There is little hope that life will ever get better.
Community 2 has the benefit of nonprofit assistance from a developed country. The community developer provides microloans so that women can buy sewing machines. They sew clothes and sell them locally, and through markets that the nonprofit connects them to. They sell the items they make, and because the quality is good and the supply is dependable, orders increase and they are able to not only pay back the loan, but buy more sewing machines and hire more local women. The women make enough money to support their families, which means the children can go to school. There is no temptation to sell the children or send them away for “a better life”.
The family is intact, well-fed, and the children receive education. Those children have the benefit of seeing their parent working in a thriving business. Perhaps one day they will create their own business, or perhaps they will be able to continue their education to the next level .
Supporting Fair Trade means supporting hard working families who want to earn an honest, dignified living. It helps to create strong families and strong communities. It creates opportunities for people to help themselves and to be independent. It is very different from “aid” which so often creates dependence on outside help.
Communities where adults are able to earn a fair, living wage are far less vulnerable to human traffickers, and less likely to be targeted.
When we buy Fair Trade Certified products, we are preventing human trafficking.
Ok, you’re convinced! So, where can you buy these products?
The three Fair Trade products that are easiest to find in grocery stores are coffee, tea, and chocolate. Some specialty or gourmet food stores may have more choices like sugar, spices, nuts, honey, fruit and more.
There are local, independent Fair Trade stores in Beaufort, Durham, Raleigh, Asheville and other North Carolina cities. Ten Thousand Villages is a Fair Trade non-profit store, and there are several locations in North Carolina.
Several established Fair Trade groups have “search” features on their websites to help you find Fair Trade products from soccer balls to shoes to cookware. Here are three: Fair Trade Federation www.fairtradefederation.org; Fair Trade USA, http://fairtradeusa.org and World Fair Trade Organization http://www.wfto.com/ .
And, of course, there is the internet. Just search for Fair Trade and literally millions of options will pop up.
With the Advent and Christmas seasons upon us, consider Fair Trade gifts, the gifts that give twice: your loved one receives a meaningful gift that can’t be bought at every department store in the country, and a vulnerable person in a Third World country receives the gift of earning a dignified living.
My name is John Asebes and I am a senior looking to graduate in May. I started interning with Pam Strickland and ENCSTOPHUMANTRAFFICKING in August and I have enjoyed every minute of it. It was more or less an accident that I found this place because it was a federal work-study position and I did not know but Pam took me in any way. Before I came I knew nothing about human trafficking, now that I intern with this organization it is something that I care about. It’s been a fun few months, Pam has taught me how to construct newsletters and press releases and the appropriate ways to send them out. I have had the opportunity since working with Pam to be on the news and the radio. Everything that I do is real PR experience so my time here has been nothing less than great, I get to hone in on my PR skills while also helping with the problem that is human trafficking. It has been a fun few months and I look forward to finishing this year out.