This is it, the countdown is on. I can hardly believe that in 7 days I’ll be on a plane heading off overseas to work with organisations rescuing women and children from sex trafficking. Crazy stuff! Half of me is excited and the other is having a little freak out. As I look at our to-do-lists and the days left on the calendar, sometimes the math (which I was never very good at) concerns me. Will we get everything done in time? Perhaps… fingers crossed.
With so many thoughts in my head, I’m sure it would be easy for me to forget why we’re doing this. Fortunately, I don’t. I know that as I write this there are millions of people world-wide, trapped in horrible situations from no fault of their own. While I sit here with my laptop, they sit in dark rooms, forced to ‘service’ countless customers and do unspeakable acts. I can not forget about human trafficking and sex slavery.
Tim and I have wanted to write blog about what’s going on globally, but the difficulty is making statistics and facts seem relevant and interesting. I know that for many of you, the details of modern slavery or trafficking are unknown. Don’t worry, that was me a few months ago. I’ll try give you the basics (from a few reputable sources) and then some more specific details about the places we are going. Perhaps then, if you didn’t before, you will see why we are doing what we’re doing.
Here I go…
You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.
– William Wilberforce
‘Slavery’ refers to the condition of treating another person as if they were property – something to be bought, sold, traded or even destroyed.
‘Human trafficking’ is another related concept, referring to the process through which people are brought, through deception, threats or coercion, into slavery, forced labour or other forms of severe exploitation.
Some global info:
- The recent 2013 Global Slavery Index puts global slavery numbers at 29.8 million – more than Australia’s population of 23.4 million
- 27% of all victims detected globally are children. Of every three child victims, two are girls and one is a boy. (United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, 2012)
- Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation accounts for 58% of all trafficking cases detected globally (UNODC, 2012)
- 98% of all victims of sexual slavery/sex trafficking worldwide are women and girls (International Labor Organization, 2012)
It’s horrifying and absurd to think that there are currently more slaves on earth than at any other time in human history. But when that massive number overwhelms your heart, take a step back and consider that each one of them has a face and a name. While it may be impossible for any one of us to reach and rescue every one of them, each one of us can certainly make a difference in one precious life.
– Louie Giglio
Brazil Trafficking in Persons Report 2013, By US Department of State:
- Child sex tourism remains a serious problem, particularly in resort and coastal areas in Brazil’s northeast. Child sex tourist typically arrive from Europe and, to a lesser extend, the United States.
- The Government of Brazil does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.
- In 2012, the Government operated anti-trafficking offices in 16 states, but did not fund specialized services for victims of sex trafficking
- The government took public measures to reduce demand for commercial sexual exploitation of children by continuing to raise awareness during the Carnival season.
- Despite the significant number of child sex tourists visiting Brazil, there were no public reports of prosecutions or convictions for child sex tourism in 2012.
- Brazil is a signatory of the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (United Nations – Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children).
If there were no demand for commercial sex, sex trafficking would not exist in the form it does today. This reality underscores the need for continued strong efforts to enact policies and promote cultural norms that disallow paying for sex.
– Trafficking in Persons Report June 2013, U.S. State Department
Thailand Trafficking in Persons Report 2013, By US Department of State:
- Thailand is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.
- In 2012, children were exploited in the sex trade using false identification in karaoke or massage parlors.
- Sex trafficking generally involves women and girls as victims. Sex tourism continues to be a problem in Thailand, and this demand likely fuels trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
- The Government of Thailand does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government has not shown sufficient evidence of increasing efforts to address human trafficking compared to the previous year.
- In 2012, corruption remained widespread among Thai law enforcement personnel, creating an enabling environment for human trafficking to prosper. There were credible reports that corrupt officials protected brothels, other commercial sex venues from raids and inspections, colluded with traffickers, used information from victim testimony to weaken cases, and engaged in commercial sex acts with child trafficking victims.
- Thailand is NOT a signatory of the 2000 UN TIP Protocol
If everyone will just do something, we will change the world.
– Mary Frances Bowley
These are the basic facts and numbers of modern slavery in the world today, so believe me when I say this is just scratching the surface. There is so much I don’t know; I am consciously incompetent. However, I know that doing nothing is not an option for Tim and me. We must do something and our ‘something’ just happens to involve travel and hands on engagement. So yes, I’m counting down the days until we leave and dealing with all the emotions that come with saying goodbye to family, friends and country, but I’m also counting the numbers of people who need to be set free. If I can be involved in just one rescue, I will be satisfied… maybe… probably not.
Love Jess xxoo
United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime – Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2013 http://www.unodc.org/documents/Global_Report_on_TIP.pdf
International Labor Organisation – Global Child Labor tends 2008-2012 http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/viewProduct.do;jsessionid=5885ca73218eb71626d7da341392b719b15d4ba1386bddda2eb6042cd72ca0e8.e3aTbhuLbNmSe34MchaRah8Tah90?productId=23015
US Department of State – Trafficking in Persons Report 2013 http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2013/