Take Action!

A few posts back I mentioned my involvement in a fashion show, the Abolition Project, which happened on campus at the University of Oregon. The producer and creator of the show, Andrew Asselt, is a man with a strong love for fashion and an intense passion to abolish human trafficking. He started this show to bring awareness to human trafficking in the greater Eugene area. Due to the success of the show, Andrew is in the midst of producing another show that will happen in the spring, as well as possible shows at other universities.

After meeting Andrew and seeing his goals and dreams come true, it encouraged and inspired me to do the same. Not only that, it reinforced my eagerness to educate and aware other students about human trafficking. Seeing the success of his show, a show that not only raised money and awareness for an incredible cause also showcased students’ talents through art, music, poetry and clothing.

For those of you passionate about this issue, I urge you to act on it. With so many universities in Seattle, there are plenty of groups and local organizations that would love your involvement. Workshops, trainings, speeches, donations, the possibilities are endless as to ways you can help fight human trafficking. For current college students, organize a campus lecture or form a group to raise awareness.

To learn more about the issue or organize a campus lecture, check out the Not for Sale Campaign, an international organization founded by University of San Francisco professor David Batstone.

For those of you, who like to bike ride, check out Seattle Against Slavery and their “Pedal Against Trafficking Humans Ride” on March 17th.

Human trafficking is, and will continue to be a growing problem in Seattle if we do not act on it. No one talks about this issue. Get them talking! 

-Brooke B

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National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month

There are more slaves in the world than ever before. Many are captives who are trafficked for sex, sold by their poverty-stricken parents or abducted and forced into the life of a sex slave. Others struggle in sweatshops, harvesting cocoa for beans and spending countless hours making shoes in poor conditions.

Just recently, President Obama declared January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, while many states named January 11, Human Trafficking Awareness Day. That was seven days ago. I did not see one mention of human trafficking on January 11, except for through the trafficking accounts I follow. Other than my own personal research, I did not see one reference to Human Trafficking Awareness Day on ANY of my social media profiles, which includes: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. While the tweets and posts about Kimye’s baby and the Manti Te’o Hoax fill my news feed, I still sit and wonder how know one is aware of a horrific world issue that is not only happening in my own hometown of Seattle, but in my own community of Eugene, Oregon.

Every 15 seconds an individual is sold. 300-500 individuals are being trafficked daily in Seattle. Homeless youths are filling the streets of downtown Eugene. Wake up people! It is time to get educated.

President Obama outlined steps to fight human trafficking last September and issued a White House release that stated:

“We will continue to take action by empowering investigators and law enforcement with the training they need, and by engaging businesses, advocates, and students in developing cutting-edge tools people can use to stay safe,” the release stated. “We will invest in helping trafficking victims rebuild their lives. And as one of the world’s largest purchasers of goods and services, the Federal Government will keep leading by example, further strengthening protections to help ensure that American tax dollars never support forced labor.”

Although it is wonderful that our President is so passionate about fighting modern-day slavery, we have to support organizations and push both state and federal government to pass the type of laws that will build protection, create legal foundations and offer a generous amount of funding. We need a stronger team, those who have the necessary tools to help us abolish modern-day slavery. So, I urge you to do a little research of your own and see how you can get involved with local nonprofits and organizations and join us in the fight for freedom.

Take a few minutes and check out this video from the Huffington Post regarding human trafficking and the role state and federal government need to do in to help us build protection for trafficking victims.

 

By Brooke B.

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What We Don’t See When We Look the Other Way

Human trafficking is growing fast due to the general lack of awareness of the issue. While there are many individuals, organizations and politicians all over the world who are taking the issue of human trafficking extremely seriously, we still are a long ways away from abolishing it. As trafficking becomes one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world, it is also one of the most under-reported crimes because of the victims’ fear of speaking out and seeking help. If Americans continue with the mindset of, “it can’t happen here,” then our eyes may never be exposed to the ugly reality of human trafficking in America.

As I continue my research on sex trafficking, specifically in the United States and Greater Seattle area, I came across an article that raised many questions. The article was regarding an accused kidnapper and pimp recently released from jail in King County. The man, Randy Stevens and Tarriq Shabazz, terrorized a woman and planned to pimp her as a prostitute in Las Vegas. The lady was drugged in a nightclub in South Lake Union and woke up in an unknown home and was then forced into a car by Shabazz. The passengers in the car headed to Queen Anne to pick up Stevens. At that point, Stevens allegedly told her he was going to have her work as a prostitute in Las Vegas and at one point, pulled a knife on her.  The woman did indeed escape, by jumping out of the vehicle, but was sent to Harborview and was in critical condition for weeks. This past week, Stevens was released from jail with no bond. Although there were just allegations and no definitive proof that Stevens was involved, it seems unethical that he would be released without bail and only told to participate in the World Education Release Program.

The program allows those participating to live at home and report to school or work and although they are to check in with a case worker, Stevens supposedly is not required to do so until January 16, leaving him time to leave the state or target another woman. Even if Stevens only attempted and did not succeed in trafficking the woman, he still participated by kidnapping and robbing the woman.

This makes me question the judicial process even more. Not only is our whole community at risk, but it also instills fear in the victim’s life. Why did the judge, Theresa Doyle, turn down the state’s request for bail?

If someone goes to jail for human trafficking, they can be out in a day or a week due to the highly populated jail cells. That is not okay. This gives victims even more reason to not speak out. Therefore, we need to be their voice and do something about this.

Alli Mellon, a Clinton, Mississippi native, who has recently been working in Cambodia as a director for an organization called The Hard Places Community. The organization helps victims of human trafficking. This quote is in regards to the huge trafficking problem in Cambodia, with children as young as 5 being trafficked. She says, “My sincere hope is that the public will not turn a blind eye to the plight of our children,” she said. “These are real kids with real feelings. They are just like yours and mine. They laugh, play, dream and hope in the midst of their pain. My biggest dream is that we won’t leave them there.” Though she is talking about the children in Cambodia, I think we can relate it to the problem of human trafficking that is happening both globally and locally. The children being trafficked are human beings with real emotions and souls. They have dreams and hopes just as we do and we need to do everything we can to help abolish this evil trade.

Help stop human trafficking by doing the following:

  1. Educate Yourself.
  2. Spread the Word.
  3. Take a Look at Your Own Community.
  4. Talk to Children and Teens.
  5. Subscribe to Human Rights Blogs and Websites.
  6. Donate to Local Organizations.

 

By Brooke B

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What is it going to take to stop trafficking?

After reading countless news articles each week on human trafficking, I cannot help but wonder – what is it going to take to stop human trafficking?

With so many myths and misconceptions surrounding sex trafficking, it is evident why individuals are not more active in fighting such an evil, inhumane problem. Human trafficking does not exist because many individuals are vulnerable to exploitation, nor is it fair (and close-minded) to think that forced prostitution is a career choice. Human trafficking exists because of the high demand for cheap labor and sex. Human traffickers treat their victims as if they are a renewable resource with no soul, or emotions. The trafficker’s ultimate goal is to profit from the high demand. But what is it going to take to stop this multibillion-dollar industry?

Awareness.

This issue will not be fought over night, which is why it will take baby steps to abolish this issue of modern day slavery. Living in Seattle, Washington for my entire life, I was in disbelief to find that Seattle is rated #3 in the nation for sex trafficking. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that a child, at this very moment, is being forced to perform sexual acts. As I sit here writing this, I feel helpless that I cannot do more. But I can, and so can you. Become aware of what is going on in your own community, attend lectures, donate to local organizations, and get educated. I know that this may not be enough but it is a start.

As far as the government goes, more policies and creating laws that are going to make a difference. The stricter that law in the area you live, the less likely traffickers are going to want to operate in that area. For laws that are already created, then it becomes changing the laws by adding larger financial penalties, finding room to imprison traffickers, and stop prosecuting innocent girls. Prosecuting the girl is not going to do anything, people need to understand that no girl is doing this by choice, these girls do not want this.

We need to find our voice and be heard. We need to speak up and be the voice for the little girl who is currently being trafficked in our community.

–Brooke B.

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Slavery Has Existed for Years. It is time to STOP

Slavery has existed for years, dating back to more than 10,000 years ago. As history struggled with the issue of slavery, it was finally abolished in 1863. Although it has been almost 150 years since slavery ended, it is recurring faster and stronger than ever.

This past month, “Lincoln,” “Les Miserables” and the documentary about sex trafficking in Seattle, “Rape for Profit” have hit the big screen revisiting the issue of slavery and its end.

But just because you see it on the big screen does not mean it is just in the movies. It is everywhere, probably in your own neighborhood.

Seattle has been a front-runner for abolishing modern-day slavery both socially and politically, as it should be with Seattle ranking #3 for child sex trafficking. I was happy to hear Metropolitan King County Council, Seattle City Council, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, state Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles and former state Rep. Velma Veloria working with local organizations and non-profits in the greater Seattle area.

Rob McKenna recently launched a standing initiative across all 50 states stating, “Washington state lawmakers, Republican and Democrats alike, are national leaders on this important issue,” said McKenna. “This is not a partisan issue — it is a human-rights issue for the 21st century.”

January 2013 Is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Month all over the United States. The Freedom Movement, a local organization, needs you to join leaders in our city to eradicate Human Trafficking in our neighbors. All you have to do is go to their website and dedicate one minute or one hour and you too can make a difference towards ending modern-day slavery.

-Brooke B.

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We Cannot Stand Still and Look Away Any Longer

By Brooke B

I am not going to hold back. It is so imperative that we stand up for women and children and stand up for what is right. Human trafficking is not just about sexual exploitation or labor exploitation; the pimps are stripping away their identity and their soul. Being fulfilled and living a happy life is what most individuals strive for, instead, these victims can no even afford food, find shelter, and air- they barely have the ability to exist. These traffickers can take these victims and break down their self esteem, getting them to the point where these girls have no knowledge other than they are completely dependent upon their trafficker for their absolute existence. Some of these girls are thinking, “I need something to eat today,” or “Where will I sleep tonight?”

Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world today. But why is that? When you think of guns or drugs, both of those items have to be replenished but a girl can be a prostitute, she can be sold over and over and over in the same night. The traffickers are making millions of dollars off of these victims and have little regret doing so. In a way, it is this renewable resource these traffickers have.

After my recent post about the documentary, Rape for Profit, I wanted to elaborate on ways organizations that you can get involved with in the Seattle area.

• International Rescue Committee: http://www.rescue.org/our-work/anti-trafficking-initiative
• The Genesis Project: http://www.traffickingproject.org/p/contact-us.html
• The Freedom Movement:
• The Polaris Project: http://www.polarisproject.org/state-map/washington
• The Human Trafficking Project:
• Seattle Against Slavery: http://www.seattleagainstslavery.org/
• Seattle Hope for Justice: http://hopeforjustice.org/engage/grassroots-organizations/
• Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network: http://warn-trafficking.org/
• Washington State Office of the Attorney General: http://www.atg.wa.gov/HumanTrafficking.aspx#.UNKjNNPjni8
• West Seattle Democratic Women: http://westseattledemocraticwomen.org/Resources.html
• Youth Care: http://www.youthcare.org

Remember, human trafficking is a worldwide problem, including the Seattle area. It could potentially affect our friends, family and loved ones. Get involved. Be the change.

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Sex Trafficking is Happening…Here

When people think of sex trafficking they picture a scene from a movie such as “Taken” or picture a women overseas being forced into the sex trade. While this may hold true in some cases, the reality is that sex trafficking is happening everywhere, including the United States.

Human trafficking is the fastest criminal growing enterprise in the world today. The scary part is that it has become a national problem, with business booming now more than ever in the United States. Children as young as 12 years old are being forced into a life of prostitution at our local malls, parking lots, grocery stores and schools.

Due to the easy access of the I-5 corridor, more predators are moving to the Pacific Northwest and Washington State is becoming increasingly popular for pimps. Though predators especially target homeless youths in Seattle, homeless youths are not the only ones at risk, essentially every child is. The community has no clue as to the dangers their children face daily due to the criminals who seek to profit from their vulnerabilities. It could be anyone.

After talking to many advocates who have made it their job to fight sex trafficking, I have realized that the reason individuals in our society are not doing more about this issue, an issue that could potentially affect a loved one, is because he or she is not educated. Education on this issue will raise awareness. As more individuals become aware through education, the community will get that much slower towards ending the sex trafficking of minors. In order to achieve this, we have to work together to make this change.

It is easy to feel so passionate about this issue, even if you have never been affected by sex trafficking because this issue has the potential to seriously affect someone we love and we need to understand that trafficking is occurring heavily in the greater Seattle area. Hopefully these statistics will open your eyes and urge to raise awareness:

1. An estimated 100,000-300,000 underage girls are sexually trafficked nationally every year.
2. Seattle is #3 in that nation for child sex trafficking.
3. There are approximately 300-500 underage girls being sexually trafficked in King County right now.

While these statistics are shocking and horrifying, we can make a difference. Get involved in local organizations and nonprofits in Seattle and the greater Seattle area. Start raising awareness and engage in the fight against exploitation!

-By Brooke B.

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