Friday, September 14, 2007

Why I Work

A trafficking survivor in the Philippines hides behind her doll at a halfway house run by the Visayan Forum Foundation, Photo by Kat Palasi

The Issue
According to the U.S. State Department, 800 thousand people are trafficked around the world each year for the purpose of prostitution, forced labor, and other forms of exploitation. This does not include trafficking within a country’s borders. An estimated 17,000 victims are trafficked into the United States each year. The International Organization for Migration estimates there are 250,000 women and children trafficked every year in Asia.

Human trafficking is connected to poverty, corruption, unemployment, and migration. It evokes strong emotions. It can be overwhelming.

Creating a Connection

Because of the massive scope of the issue, it can be difficult to think about and connect with the actual people who are victimized. It can be hard to imagine the real people who are enslaved and forced into prostitution or forced to work in a factory. Although the issue itself raises eyebrows, if people cannot connect with actual victims it makes it easier for them to forget, to move on, to change the channel and live another day ignorant of the reality of modern day slavery.

It is important that people connect not only to the issue, but also to the people it victimizes. Only then will the need to create change fully present itself. Then we will no longer be able to turn our backs because the issue has been personalized.

In human rights work, building this personal connection between the victims and the public is crucial to creating long-lasting change. Without it, someone might still be motivated to give money, but without a personal tie to the issue the support will fade over time.

Lasting Change
We need the public to wake up to the truth behind trafficking. We need to recognize the misery and suffering and acknowledge the lives that hang in the balance while we live in our comfortable, air-conditioned bubbles. Only then will we be motivated to create long-lasting change. Only then will we take serious action to end modern day slavery.

Money plays an integral role, but we also need life-long advocates and supporters who understand what’s at stake, who understand the degree of evil and injustice at work.

The Organization

The Human Trafficking Project will forge this personal connection between victims and the public by creating trafficking-related art that presents the massive issue of trafficking through the eyes of the very people it affects. Think music, film, photography, clothes, blogs, and more- this is the Human Trafficking Project.

The art projects will be merchandised and sold to the public to raise awareness. All profit will go towards anti-slavery work.

Specifically, profits will be used to:
  • Develop further trafficking-related art projects to raise awareness
  • Fund educational scholarships for trafficking survivors
  • Operate the Human Trafficking Project

Guest relation officers, or hostesses and sometimes prostitutes, are typical in bars across the Philippines. The commodification of women contributes to an environment where trafficking flourishes, Photo by Veejay Villafranca

The time to act is now.

Help stop modern day slavery! Help defeat human trafficking!

To get involved e-mail

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