Awareness and Fighting of Human Trafficking
I have the good fortune of being a member of the Forum for Executive Women here in St. Cloud, MN. This group of more than 100 professional women meets monthly to network and hear lectures on pertinent topics. Our last lecture was on the prevalence of Human Trafficking. This is hardly a popular topic; rather one that we would like to deny exists in this country, even in this state and probably, in this city.
The reality is that it exists in this country and in this state. It is often operated out of hotels. There are about 1.5 million girls and boys who are in sex exploitation; the average age is between 12 and 14 years of age. Human trafficking is big business -- $32 billion dollar business worldwide with the United States playing a significant role in that business. It is difficult to get an accurate amount of profit but it is clearly big business and includes industrial slavery as well as sex exploitation. The sex exploitation is not about sex; it is about money.
Persons who are most vulnerable for human trafficking are children who come from unstable homes, those who have a poor self-concept, the homeless and runaway children. Adults are also vulnerable – the unemployed, those who do not have good language skills, the unskilled needing work. These adults end up working in “sweat shops” earning very little for wages and yet needing to pay for their room and board, signing unreasonable contracts with the employer, etc.
Why am I writing this blog? First of all, to create an awareness of human trafficking, to encourage all to do what we can to assist young children to be self-asserting, to learn life skills and to develop strong personalities.
You may want to check out these websites: www.childrenofthenight.org www.sharedhope.org
There are also a number of books on human trafficking:
The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today by Kevin Bates; Caged by Molly Venzke (situated in New Orleans); A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery by E. Benjamin Skinner as well as other informative books.
Be informed, be alert, be part of the solution!
Miriam Ardolf, OSB