Modern Day Slavery
There are an estimated 12.3 million people globally who have been stripped of their dignity through human trafficking. Trafficking occurs when powerful people coerce, abduct, or deceive the vulnerable in order to gain control and exploit them. It is modern day slavery.
Freeset is in business to counter this slavery, specifically sex slavery. Millions of women and children are trafficked into brothels and placed on the street, forced to sell their bodies for the profit of the powerful. Only through a united, global effort can this be abolished.
Read on to find out more about human sex trafficking and how you can join the fight against it.
Sex Trafficking - Innocence Betrayed
At Freeset, we work with many victims of a particular form of trafficking - sex trafficking. While each form of trafficking and slavery is evil, the loss of innocence and human dignity that occur in situations of sex trafficking can be particularly traumatizing.
The sex traffickers prey on the vulnerable victims of poverty, young women and children, and those searching for a better life. These innocents are often promised a job in another city by a trafficker who gains their trust only to sell them as sex slaves. Some are locked up in brothels and others do not have the resources or are too traumatized to find their way home.
There are many reasons why women and children are vulnerable to traffickers, but the true cause of trafficking lies with demand. Those who patronize the commercial sex industry around the world are responsible for the demand which traffickers try to meet. Underlying this demand is the perception that all human beings are not equal in dignity and value and that some - particularly women - can be exploited for another's pleasure or gain.
The women and children who survive trafficking and commercial sex exploitation face many challenges. Psychological and emotional damage from years of cruelty and neglect can be paralyzing. Survivors also face health issues such as HIV/AIDS and damage to their bodies through abuse. Furthermore, in the developing countries, the social stigma attached to sex work means that many victims are not welcomed home. Thus, those who are trafficked at a young age find themselves without skills or education, are unable to re-integrate into society. Many victims of trafficking remain in the trade not because they are kept by force but because they have no other means of earning a living and imagine no other life. Lack of choice can enslave a child or woman as effectively as a locked door.
Find out more about trafficking at:
TIP Report (2012)
The U.S. State Department's Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report is the most comprehensive worldwide report on the efforts of governments to combat trafficking.
The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women is a great resource to find out about trafficking in countries around the world.
Keep up to date with news about anti-trafficking efforts taking place around Kolkata.
Combating Sex Trafficking
There are many organizations with different philosophies and goals that fight against sex trafficking. The size of the problem requires all of them to work together if trafficking is ever to be reduced or eliminated.
One approach deals with demand a difficult endeavor. If those who patronize commercial sex workers in brothels or on the street do so because they believe that women and children are objects which can be bought and sold, then a fundamental attitude shift is necessary to address issues of demand. Women's groups worldwide are often adept at raising women's perceptions of themselves, but true empowerment must also lead to a shift in men's perceptions of women.
Another approach is to combat the supply side by empowering people to decrease the vulnerability that leads to trafficking. Many victims, especially in the developing world, are taken from impoverished and remote areas into urban centers. Educational campaigns that reach rural areas teaching women and children about the ways traffickers approach and gain the trust of the vulnerable is part of the process. Empowering women through endeavors like micro-finance and national legislation also decreases their vulnerability. Reduction of poverty is, perhaps, the most effective method of reducing the supply of victims.
Yet another approach is to work through national and international legal frameworks to combat trafficking. This can be effective when victims are brought across borders and cross check-points. Issues of corruption come into play as trafficking rings are often well-funded and well-connected. Some groups work to free underage children who have already been sold to brothels through partnering with local police and bring the perpetrators to court. The union model creates a coalition of commercial sex workers in an area who protect themselves and defend their interests to the police and the government, and theoretically work to stop underage trafficking from within.
A final approach, of which Freeset is a part, involves meeting the needs of those who have already been able to leave their situations of exploitation. Their needs, as described above, are significant. Some organizations take victims out of the area and put them into safe houses, where they are put through a process of recuperation and then re-integrated into society.
At Freeset, we take a different approach. At the center of our philosophy is a commitment to the women having choice over their own lives they can choose to leave the trade and work at Freeset instead. Because we are a sustainable business which provides employment along with training, we ensure that their decision to leave the trade is sustainable. In this way we avoid the often painful process women face when they are removed from society and then must find a way to re-enter it.
Being informed is a great first step to combating trafficking and violence against women around the world. Make sure you read the information pages and visit the links provided. Below are other ways to join the fight.
Not For Sale is an organization that is taking aim at the root causes of slavery while supporting the movement for freedom.
Visit www.stopthetraffik.org and sign their resolution to combat global trafficking. This site has great resources that can be printed out for use around your business, campus, neighborhood, or place of worship.
Don't forget to check out Freeset products. Buying Freeset bags and tees is a very direct way of engaging to keep women in dignified work and out of the sex trade.
Freeset is also starting a new endeavour to help fight trafficking by facilitating the establishment of new businesses. It is called the Freeset Business Incubator. Learn more about the Incubator at their website: www.freesetincubnator.com