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The launch of the Made in a Free World initiative [will] help buyers and suppliers identify and eliminate supply chain vulnerabilities, and demonstrate their commitment to combatting human trafficking…In addition, the faith-based community has been a leader in combatting human trafficking at home and around the world, raising awareness and providing services. The President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will focus its efforts on the issue of trafficking and identify opportunities to expand partnerships with faith and community-based groups.

Fact Sheet: the Obama Administration Announces Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking at Home and Abroad www.whitehouse.gov

“It ought to concern every person, because it’s a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at the social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health an…

"One of the largest reasons why victims of trafficking and prostitution stay in their exploitative situation is because they are seen by the public as “dirty” women who chose to sell their bodies.  The reality is that the overwhelming majority of women are tricked, manipulated, or forced into prostitution by their circumstances (poverty/addiction), and want to get out.  We, however, tend to judge them and shun them instead of loving them.  The women are not the criminals—the men who purchase them and the people who traffick them are the criminals.”

(Source: ijm.org)

TAKE ACTION: National Call-in Day to Pass the TVPRA on September 4!

"Abolitionists around the country have been advocating for the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) – bi-partisan legislation that will sustain life-saving programs that fight human trafficking at home and abroad.

This legislation must pass before Congress adjourns at the end of the year. On September 4, IJM, the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), and abolitionists around the country are mobilizing for the National Call-In Day to Pass the TVPRA!

There are many issues competing for your Senators’ attention right now, so they need to hear from constituents who care about ending modern-day slavery to make the TVPRA a priority. Let’s work together to generate 3,000 calls – from all 50 states. Will you help us?

It only takes a few minutes to make a call - they even provide a script for you! Even though I am sick and have a sore throat I took five minutes to call my two senators - if I can do it, so can you!

Check Out Our New Website BeTheirFreedom-United

beherfreedom-findyours:

Set up a profile, chat and connect, meet new people with the same heart for justice, and join the conversation in our forums. Submit videos and use your voice to raise awareness, blog about the issue, become a part of paintings for  human trafficking, and more; in a collaborative effort to raise awareness of slavery and sexual exploitation worldwide.  

Sharing with 7th Graders

Last week during Spring Break I returned to my high school to share about modern day slavery with two classes of 7th graders. My mother works at my high school and suggested the idea to one of my old teachers, who agreed to have me come in and speak to her students.

It was very strange to go back to my old high school. I’ve hardly visited in the past two years since I left, yet all of my teachers remembered me and know a lot about what is going on in my life thanks to my mom. They’ve added new sliding doors and security systems and artwork and things like that - enough to make a place whose halls I walked every day for four years feel slightly alien to me. I enjoyed speaking with my teachers, telling them about my major in film, about wanting to study abroad in London, and wanting to fight slavery. One of my favorite teachers, my French teacher, who is quite possibly the happiest person on the planet, told me it was nice to see that I was still “healthy and wise,” which was very sweet.

I was a bit nervous about giving the presentation. I had been in a similar position several years before, when I served as a Team Leader for PEP, an organization that taught middle schools students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, so I was able to draw from those experiences when talking to the kids. 

I began by playing the Not for Sale: Faces of Slavery video at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lck1YQMJ70Y&feature=relmfu 

I started by asking them how many slaves they thought were in the world today. I received answers of “100,” “1000,” “3000,”  and “3 million”. They gasped when I told them the actual number is more than 27 million. They were very attentive and well-behaved, and asked great questions throughout the presentation.

The following is an excerpt of what I talked about that day:

"There are more slaves right now on the planet than there were during the entire African slave trade. Until a few months ago I had no idea that slavery still existed. I thought slavery was abolished in the 1800s – I didn’t realize it still exists today. I learned about slavery at the Passion 2012 conference in Atlanta, GA in January. There were over 45000 college students in attendance, and we donated over 3 million dollars in 4 days to several organizations that fight slavery. People all over the world are forced to work long hours for little or no pay. They live in extreme poverty.

I am a part of the International Justice Mission. IJM works to free slaves around the world and bring justice to the owners of the slaves. They work to change the way governments in many countries handle slavery in order to prevent it from happening again.

We all have slaves working for us. They farm the cotton used in our clothes. They make parts of our electronics like our cell phones and video games. There is a great website, called slaveryfootprint.org, that helps you calculate how many slaves are working for you, based on the food you eat, and the products you buy. I was shocked to learn that I have 44 slaves working for me around the world to make my clothes, food, make-up, chocolate, and electronics.

Video (90 seconds) Kids at work in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields. http://www.rferl.org/media/video/24408254.html

In a video shot secretly by human-rights activists and obtained by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s  Uzek service, young children are seen working in Ubekistan cotton fields. The Uzbek government forcibly sends upwards of 2 million children—some as young as 7—to work in the fields for 10 hours a day, for two to three months each year, according to the Responsible Sourcing Network.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Uzbek government has taken no meaningful steps to implement the two International Labour Organization conventions on child labor, which it ratified in March 2008.

While one’s first thought may be to boycott the industry, industry players admit that a boycott of this scale would be difficult to implement because of the multiple links in a global supply chain. “There really is no current way to trace and certify—once the textiles are in a state where we get engaged—that no cotton fibers in those textiles originally came from the cotton fields of Uzbekistan or anywhere else for that matter,” Ron Parham, a spokesman for Colombia Sportswear told BBC News in September. One way forward, he says, is to use the model for organic cotton, where the fiber’s source can be traced from the final product to the grower.

UNICEF, meanwhile, reports “limited success” in persuading the Uzebk government to eliminate the use of forced child labor.

Source: Ecotourre”

Then I played part of the Kony 2012 video at kony2012.com until last ten minutes of class. I used the last ten minutes to discuss Joseph Kony, quiz the students, pass out handouts, and answer questions. They answered the quiz questions very well, and asked great questions that made me feel they were really impacted by what they had learned. 

I gave them a handout with this info:

What can you do to Free the Slaves?

  • International Justice Mission - Learn more at ijm.org -Sign your name to Obama to stand for freedom! 
  • Go to ijm.org/get-involved/youth - Get involved in the Loose Change to Loosen Chains project
  • Visit slaveryfootprint.org to learn how many slaves are working for you and what you can do to change that.

I hope that these students remember what they’ve learned. I only learned about modern day slavery a few months ago, but they have now heard it at a much younger age, and are able to go through life with an awareness of the injustice in the world and do something about it.

This was a great experience for me, and I hope to return to share with more students soon.

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