I am embarrassed to admit that prostitution was legal in Rhode Island until 2009, but still I remember my disbelief when I heard about the case of four young American women being held against their will as part of a human trafficking ring in Rhode Island last year. I was driving in my car as the news came over the radio and when they mentioned the age of the girls involved I remember looking in the rear view mirror at my two daughters in the back seat. They were not that far off from the ages mentioned, and looking at my own daughters’ young faces my chest clenched, these were children they were talking about. No child should ever end up in that situation.
That case opened my eyes to my misconception about Human Trafficking and it’s victims, and suddenly it was not just something happening in other countries to impoverished young women or children depicted in Hollywood Films such as Taken or Slumdog Millionaire. Here it was going on in my own backyard, and it had been all along. In fact I’ve since learned that there are an estimated 20-30 Million Human Trafficking victims each year in what has become the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Over 2,500 cases have been reported to take place in the US, in all 50 states, with the highest incidents in New York, California, Texas, and Florida. Nearly half of those victims were children, and there are an estimated 5.5 Million child victims globally.
Human Trafficking has succinctly been tagged as “The Crime That Shames Us All” by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa. For the fourth year President Obama has declared January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in an effort to increase awareness about human trafficking and as he so rightly calls it, modern-day slavery. This January The U.S. Fund for UNICEF launched The End Trafficking project including a PSA featuring Angie Harmon in her first role as a UNICEF Ambassador, to raise awareness about the issue of child trafficking and urge Americans to help end it.
“The End Trafficking project is the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s initiative to raise awareness about child trafficking and mobilize communities to take meaningful action to help protect children. In partnership with concerned individuals and groups, the End Trafficking project aims to bring us all closer to a day when there are ZERO exploited children.”-End Trafficking U.S. Fund For UNICEF
To learn more and to help out go to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF End Trafficking website and Connect with End Trafficking at:
Post the National Human Trafficking Hotline number, 1-888-373-7888. Callers can report potential cases, get help, or request information and training. This 24/7 toll-free hotline is 100% confidential. Download a hotline postcard here.
Volunteer by joining the UNICEF Action Center today.
Here are a few of the 22 things to do listed by the UNICEF End Trafficking campaign to help put an end to what is estimated to be a 32 billion dollar industry based on exploitation.
1. Switch to Fair Trade brands, and/or host a Fair Trade Party. Fair Trade-certified products are produced without slave or child labor. Profits from Fair Trade products support farmers and laborers involved in production and ensure that they are paid fairly and work under safe conditions. To learn more, visit fairtradeusa.org.
2. Purchase products made by survivors of human trafficking. From jewelry and handbags to lotion and soccer balls. Purchasing survivor-made products helps to support sustainable employment and rehabilitation programs for survivors. Start shopping. Visit polarisproject.org or FashionABLE to find products.
3. Support policies that protect victims of trafficking. Ask your senator to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (S. 1301). Visit volunteers.unicefusa.org/advocate for a sample letter.
4. Post the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888- 3737-888, around your neighborhood, school, or work place. The hotline handles calls from anyone, including witnesses, potential victims, service providers, community members, and people hoping to learn more. It is toll free, and can be reached anywhere in the U.S., 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can download a flyer for free here from the Polaris Project or make your own. (Please ask permission before posting flyers in coffee shops, restaurants, business locations, etc.)
5. Watch the below PSA featuring Angie Harmon as the End Trafficking spokesperson for UNICEF:
I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.
Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.