12.3 million people are in slavery right now (1). Today, in 2011, nearly 1 out of every 500 humans alive today is a salve. Some are ‘bonded’ to work off debts. Others are sold as children into lives of prostitution.
That’s a lot of people, and that’s the low estimate. Others estimate the number is as high as 27 million (2). It took us four centuries to make that many salves in the Atlantic Slave Trade. There are more slaves alive today than at any other time in human history. Another disturbing fact: there are slaves in the US. There are sex slaves in the Bay Area. Apparently, we have produced enough demand to bring a market here.
Did you know this? Because I didn’t. There are so many problems in the world, and I didn’t see this one coming.
I don’t know much more about the problem than this. The biggest conference ever on the topic of human trafficking occurred in Feemont a few months ago. For more info, go here: http://freedom-summit.org/2011/
What can you do about this?
One of the major reasons for human trafficking is poverty. People will sell their children into slavery out of desperation. Women will remain prostitutes because there is no other work they know how to do. An organization was founded to address these problems in poverty. Consider the following from Trade As One’s blog, an organization dedicated to providing dignified jobs to the poor:
I remember sitting in a small room in Mumbai, India, listening to a woman who led a business close to the red light district that employed women who had come out of commercial sex work … As she shared her greatest need – that of ensuring enough orders to sustain the momentum of their business and keep the women fully employed – this good woman could not mask her personal sense of guilt of not being able to provide for her women the opportunity they needed to keep them away from the grip of their old life. (3)
Buy a purse. You don’t need to give a handout; these people don’t need that kind of help. They need work. So buy a handbag. Or some earrings you like. If you’re a guy, you can buy one for your girlfriend (and explain to her how sensitive you are, and how much you care about sexy causes like human trafficking). You’ll support a group of women taken from slavery and given respectable jobs. Read about the organizations providing the jobs here.
Trade As One’s website lets you spend your money on products made by poor people. Do you care about Palestinian refugees? Don’t just complain about Israeli bulldozers; switch out your soap and use olive oil soap made by the refugees.
Worried about war-torn regions? Buy some re-modeled bullet casings. Are you worried about HIV orphans? Make your next birthday card one hand-made by them. Do you hate Starbucks? Bypass the corporate fat-cats and buy coffee from the farmer co-ops.
There are a lot of problems in the world, and to solve them fully will take a lot of sacrifice. But this one’s different. Keep buying stuff. In fact, buy more stuff. But spend a bit more and create a decent job. You can help the poor every time you take a shower, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and put on your earrings. It’ll be well worth the extra few dollars.
(1) From the US Department of State http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/142980.pdf