Tuesday, June 16, 2009

STOP! Where are you going with this?

I know I have a few followers on this blog - not a lot - just a few. Some of you may have landed here because of an interest in dolls, or home design or quilting or felting. One follower is my best friend from high school (hi Gail!) and I know she is not interested in anything remotely crafty or domestic. Case in point - when I got married I had a kitchen tea. Everyone was asked to bring their favourite receipe. She brought a list of favourite restaurants because she makes reservations for dinner. So she's here to keep track of me (and now you've got your licence back (ahem) you will have to drive up the M2 and visit me).
But amongst the thoughts on paint colours and crafty love - you will perhaps have noticed a slight bent towards social justice issues. It may seem incongrous to be talking about pretty things one minute and horrific injustices the next but that's the nature of the world we live in.
I follow a number of blogs - some present a world where life is a continuous Martha Stewart Living event, untouched and unruffled by the crueler considerations of life. But even Martha had a time when life went pear-shaped and she spent time in the clink for corporate indiscretions!
I much prefer blogs that are more balanced and more real. One of the best blogs that walks these two worlds is Tara Bradford's Paris Parfait. In between pictures of vitrines at Galleries Lafayette and Parisian brocantes, Tara packs a punch with intelligent and incisive commentary on US, Middle Eastern and European politics. She calls people, political parties and whole countries out on their less than savoury policies and practices. She refuses to stand idly by and not speak up.
Which brings me to this -
About a year ago the issue of People Trafficking blipped on my radar. People trafficking is modern day slavery. Children, yes, CHILDREN are bought and sold as cheap labour and sex slaves and it happens EVERYWHERE.

Roughly 2 to 4 million people are trafficked in and across borders each year.
Human trafficking is now a leading source of profits for organized crime, together with drugs and weapons, generating an estimated 9.5 billion dollars per year.
The overwhelming majority of those trafficked are women and children.
The average victim is forced to have sex up to 20 times a day.
The CIA calculates that profits from one trafficked woman alone averages around $250,000 USD per year.
Traffickers acquire their victims in a number of ways. Sometimes they are kidnapped outright in one country and taken forcibly to another. Traffickers also entice victims to migrate voluntarily with false promises of well-paying jobs in foreign countries as au pairs, models, dancers, domestic workers, etc. When they arrive at their destination many are placed in physically confining conditions, their travel documents and passports are taken away and both they and their families are threatened if they do not cooperate. Women and girls are forced to work as prostitutes in heavily guarded brothels and strip clubs.
An estimated 1.8 million children are exploited by the commercial human trafficking industry. Children are abducted from rural areas and trafficked into a range of exploitive practices, which include bonded labor, sexual exploitation, marriage, illicit adoptions, and begging.
Young girls, some as young as 12 years old, are forced to work in brothels, massage parlors, prostitution rings, strip clubs, or used to produce pornographic materials.
Children are recruited and trafficked to earn money by begging or selling goods.
Child beggars are sometimes maimed by their captors to generate sympathy and generosity from potential buyers.
Victims are forced to live in confining and unsanitary conditions and are subject to many abuses such as malnutrition, sleep deprivation, emotional abuse, and beatings, lack of healthcare and forced abortions. Many contract STD's and hepatitis A & B and HIV/AIDs.
Children are deprived of basic education and any sort of parental upbringing, and are completely dependent on their captors for food and shelter.
Perhaps it doesn't come as a total shock to some that it happens in Africa and Asia but did you know it also happens in Europe?

And also the US?

So what can be done?
1) get educated - visit the A21 Campaign, the Greyman , Not for Sale or IOM to start to understand the insidious nature of human trafficking and how, when, where and why it happens
2) get political - write to your local, state and federal representatives to put political pressure and resources into policing and prosecuting as well as resourcing for rescue and rehabilitation
3) put your money where your mouth is - provide funding for the groups mentioned above and also buy free trade products that pay a fair days pay to workers and don't use child labour
4) think about prevention - many of the children are sold or lured in by the promise of a better life. Child sponsorship through Compassion or World Vision helps provide children out of the trap of poverty and vulnerability that makes them vulnerable to exploitation.
5) Pray - pushing back the darkness of this world is a spiritual as well as physical activity. One does not replace the other but done in conjunction -it achieves much.

Just don't bury your head in the sand. It has to STOP *

*STOP - Stop Trafficking Of People


Deb said...

Thanks for sharing this! I agree it's important for us to think of such issues whether we're reading a craft blog, diy blog or political blog. As an Aussie, I was glad when I found out that Compassion and World Vision Australia were working to help children in such situations.

paris parfait said...

Thank you for the lovely kudos about my blog - but most of all, thank you for speaking out about such an important issue. I will link to your piece and keep an eye on this issue for future developments.

Anonymous said...

Check out Happy Endings? a documentary on Asian massage parlors in Rhode Island where prostitution is legal.


Maff said...

Thanks for sharing this, I found you through following a twitter link that led me to your blog. My heart breaks at the injustice that is so prevalent in the world...and I kind of feel overwhelmed sometimes about where to add my help - wherever and whenever I can I just do it. It's always good to have something I can share with others - will be posting this on my facebook for my friends. Thanks again! :)

Maff said...

Hi Megan, would you mind if I borrow this and post it on my blog too - the lower part where you explain about people trafficking and have the videos and links.

It's so sad, and this is something that has also come onto my personal radar in the last year or so...some of the groups I support cross over with yours, others are different but still address this issue of gross injustice towards other people :(

Megan said...

Hi Maff

Go right ahead and thanks for asking.