07 December, 2009

You Can End Slavery

I often get asked what people can do to raise awareness about trafficking. Change.org had these ten tips for college students - I would say could mostly be applied to everyone.
We can all do more to tell people about trafficking, to start the conversation. The thing is to become educated yourself. So pick a country or a form of traffcking (sex, forced labor, etc.). and learn about that. There are TONS of books and movie about traffcking, some of it is better than others, but even the less than stellar ones can start a discussion. Also be conscious of the words you use when you talk about it. Language has power - so instead of saying prostitute say prostituted person and instead of slave say person caught in slavery. It distinguishes them from their situations, and makes it what is happening to them and not who they are but an action being done.
Learn about fair trade - I am in no ways a fair trade is the golden ticket advocate. I think fair trade has its positives and negatives, but if we pushed fair trade more for the accountability it brings to product lines things would improve. Check out Rugmark for what I think might a better alternative to all of us becoming fair trade happy.
Educating woman and girls - I have been saying this forever: If you want to change something get women behind it. Educating women is one sure fire way to decrease traffcking, poverty, the number of children, and create better socities... So support the organizations that support women! The Girl Effect is one good example. Again, it goes further than just education or just micro-loans - but starts as a shift in how a culture/community sees the value of women. I can tangent - and might someday soon - about the intrinsic value of women and why satan wants to beat them down - but, for now, I will just say that nothing will be sustainable or truly impactful if it does not include something regarding the dignity and value of women.
Lay off the porn! I was talking to a friend the other day about pedophilia and mentioned that the porn industry is a major reason pedophilia is so high (it is!) and she said that didn't matter - we just need to be more focused on people hurting children. Okay, they are connected! In Cambodia one of the reasons pedophilia is so prevalent is that men watch porn all day and to release the "energy" try it out on their daughters. There is a drastic correlation that our society wants to gloss over between porn and pedophilia, porn and trafficking. The porn industry is a dark, dark place and it is the gateway into everything else. And for every 1 girl that ends up on Girls Next Door another 1,000+ get sucked into this tarnish on our society we would rather not face. It's about demand my friend and it starts with the print media, videos, websites we view. And it is a much, much larger issue that we want to admit. We eventually become immune to what we see all the time and porn reigns with turning women into objects. And the more degraded or demeaning the image is the more it breaks down the barriers of what is okay and not. Pron is an addiction and just like you, over time, need more drugs or alcohol to get the same "high" so it works with porn too. They are correlated!
In the end, I think there is a mind shift that comes with realizing that we are all connected and our world is only getting smaller. So if does matter if we don't face that fact our cell phones fuel the Congo, or if we buy ripoff Kate Spade handbags we are supporting criminal activity. The first step is education, the second is being willing to change your habits to reflect what you know. And that might mean boycotting stores or spending more on a product, but what is a human life worth to you? And that's how we need to start looking at things. The people caught in slavery aren't stats or tragic situations or something "over there" - they are people like you, like me, people with dreams and ideas, brains, family, dignity, etc. They are people and maybe if we stopped talking about them like commodities or effects and started talking about them like we would our best friend or someone else who mattered a lot in our life then we might be willing to do more to help them.