Monday, March 22, 2010

Freedom Boutique for Slavery Victims

How's this for a great idea?

From Rochester's Post-Bulletin:

By Matthew Stolle
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

There are lots of stories in the news these days that chronicle the injustices and miseries of people in far-flung places of the world. They make interesting conversational topics, but rarely do people feel as if they are in a position to do anything about it.

Patti Brown feels differently.

The Rochester hairstylist plans to set up a Freedom Boutique at the Cutting Loose Hair Salon in Rochester later this month. The boutique will offer products either made by or benefiting people who have come out of human trafficking, slavery and abuse.

"I kind of felt after reading about the slavery issue and the human traffic problem, it's like, 'What can I do?'" Brown said. "I do think it's helping. We can end slavery by the way we purchase."

Brown said the problem of modern-day slavery afflicts 27 million women and children, and the problem is not confined to places outside of the United States. Minnesota is among the 13 most heavily sex and slavery trafficked states in the nation, according to the Minnesota Human Trafficking Watch.

Approximately 50 percent of all victims of trafficking are children.

Brown said the products she will be selling have been made by women in India and Cambodia who have escaped from forced prostitution. Others have been made by women in Swaziland and Uganda who are suffering with AIDS because of the abuse against them.

"(It's) helping people get on their feet," Brown said. "I guess it's that after-care side that really spoke to me and made me think (that) if we're going to try and help them get out of this situation, we have to help them have an income."

Coffee, chocolate, jewelry and handbags will be sold at the boutique. The products, in a sense, have already been paid for. Brown and her husband purchased the products, and the person who made them has been paid as well. The boutique is a way of keeping that virtuous cycle of purchasing alive.

"It may not sound like much, but sometimes it is the most we can do, and it not only spreads awareness, but also helps people realize we can do something to stop slavery through our purchases."

For more details, click here.

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