365 Days: The Charity! (and Human Trafficking)

Today, I am announcing the charity that I have chosen for my 365 Day charity project!
But first, I want to start by telling you a little bit about the issue.


The Issue: Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery

What is it?

The United Nations defines human trafficking as the process by which a person is recruited to be controlled and held captive for the purpose of exploitation. In other words: Slavery. It also often includes the smuggling of slaves from one place or country to another.

Slavery still exists? Didn’t that end long ago? Yes, it still exists. No, it did not go away. There is an estimated 20-30 MILLION slaves in the world, though the actual number is probably much higher as not every person or situation in the world could ever be tracked.

Modern day slavery is typically defined as either labor-oriented or sex-oriented. A majority of the slave trade deals with the trafficking and selling of captive and forced sex slaves, but labor slavery is also very rampant and just as thoroughly widespread.

Who does it affect?

EVERYONE. First world, third world, upper class, lower class, man, woman, adult, child – none are exempt from this form of exploitation. Strangely enough, modern day slavery is no respecter of persons or country. It occurs in almost every country in the world, in almost every major city. The United States is no exemption. In fact, an estimated 18,000 persons per year are trafficked INTO the United States, which does not even include the estimated 300,000 people a year exploited DOMESTICALLY. The highest number of the exploited is women and children, but men are hardly safe from modern slavery. And while it may be easier to exploit poverty-stricken individuals, upper class individuals have been easily and equally victimized as well.

What are the stats?

Let me put it this way: after the drug cartels, human trafficking and slavery is the second most profitable illegal industry in the world, running neck and neck with the arms trade. It’s the fastest growing criminal enterprise in 21st century. And it’s profit margin? Estimated to be anywhere from $12 BILLION to $42 BILLION globally.

80% of the exploited are women.

Children make up approximately 26% of forced labor victims.

22% of the victims of the sex trade are children. There are an estimated 1.8 million child sex slaves.

A sex slave may be forced to have sex 20-48 times a day.

*The numbers and statistics may vary slightly as there is no real way to get an exact count on this rampant world-wide industry.

 

How can I learn more?

I suggest checking out a few of these organizations and websites:

How can I get involved?

Glad you asked! There are many ways, and one of the most important is to learn the laws of your state or province: a lot of states in the United States do not have adequate laws to fully prosecute a rape case. A lot of state laws even wrongly prosecute the forced victims as the criminals. Get to know your state laws and get involved in your local, state, or federal government: start a petition, write your state or federal representatives, work to help change those laws to better protect people.

Get to know where your products come from. The Diamond industry, for example, is notorious for its exploitation and enslavement of its workers. Where are your jewels, your clothes, your food coming from? It can be hard to find out, but there are many companies and stores dedicated to providing slavery-free and conflict-free merchandise.

Become an advocate in your local community. A lot of people do not even know that they need to be careful. Set up an assembly or information meeting at your school, start a campaign and post flyers around town about the issue, write to your local newspapers and publications asking them to publish an article about the issue and how we can keep ourselves and others safe.

Raise money for a charity fighting human trafficking. Set up a 5k race or even a marathon! Have a car wash, a bake sale, get creative! As you can see, I am attempting to do this with my artwork.

There are, of course, many other ways that you can get involved. I encourage you to study the issue more and find a way that you can help.

And, most important of all, if you suspect a case of human trafficking or abuse, please do not hesitate to report it.

And lastly, it is illegal to purchase sex. More importantly, it is illegal and morally terrible to purchase sex from a forced and/or underage person. Even purchasing porn can cause a demand for underage or forced porn models. Your actions affect more than just yourself. Perhaps consider starting a local campaign to remind people. (Norway and Sweden did it! Check it out here: http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/895)

How can I tell if someone is being exploited?

The Polaris Project has put together a great resource for recognizing the signs of exploitation and human trafficking. View it here: http://www.polarisproject.org/

 

How can I report a suspected case of human trafficking, abuse, or slavery?

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free HOTLINE, available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Call 1-888-373-7888 or text to BeFree (233733)

C.A.S.T. also has a HOTLINE  at   1(888) KEY-2(FRE)EDOM or 1(888) 539-2373

And remember, it is better to report a suspicion and be wrong than to not report it and it be true!

 

How can I protect myself from this?

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith helped devise an emergency app for your cell phone. Visit Dontsellbodies.org for details.

The majority of trafficked persons are enslaved by an acquaintance. It’s good to be aware of this and the people around you.

 
 

 

The Charity: C.A.S.T

C.A.S.T. stands for the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking

It is a charity that is a person-based program, helping individual survivors and helping the whole person – through shelter, legal representation, medical attention, therapy and rehabilitation, and vocational training. (Read more about their services here: http://www.castla.org/client-services-program)

Trafficking is a vicious cycle, one that is hard to break without adequate help and attention. (80% of trafficked women in Eastern Europe are re-trafficked again, and in Asia 20-25% are re-trafficked.) I believe that C.A.S.T. does a great job in identifying these issues, addressing them, and ensuring that the past is not repeated for these survivors.

The C.A.S.T. website gives some insightful information on the world of human trafficking:

Traffickers threaten to or use force, coercion, abduction, fraud, or deception to bring their victims under their control, in addition to abusing their power or the vulnerable social or economic status of their victims. The resulting exploitation is essentially a modern-day form of slavery as human trafficking victims are subjected to sexual exploitation or forced labor. This labor usually consists of making clothing, growing food for export, assembling toys for children, cleaning homes and providing childcare to the family of their slaveholders. Women and girls are also forced or tricked into prostitution.

Many people ask why more victims don’t attempt to escape if they are being held against their will. Imagine a victim’s situation – their oppressor has threatened to come after them or their family if they attempted to escape. Victims are told that they will be deported or put in jail if they leave because their oppressor has stolen their documents. Deportation for a victim means retribution by the trafficker, as most traffickers have a web of conspirators in the victims’ home country willing and able to get even. Many victims fear retribution through black magic, physical and sexual abuse, among many other threats and promises made by their captors.

If a victim does successfully escape and stay in the United States, their limited language skills, unfamiliarity with the area, and poor physical and mental health due to their enslavement, can leave them helpless on the streets – vulnerable to falling prey to their traffickers once again. With no money, no documents to prove their citizenship, and limited skills, they are unable to earn a living and get themselves out of their situation. A victim’s situation seems hopeless – until they find out that there are organizations like CAST that were created to help them escape this downward spiral of despair.

 

C.A.S.T. is a well-recognized organization. Actress Jada Pinkett Smith is one of their spokespersons, and it has received many national awards of merit and credence: Received California Association of Nonprofits Innovation Award in 2004, United Nations Global Citizen Award in 2010, Presidential recognition at Clinton Global Initiative in 2012, and is a Charity Navigator 4 star charity and a Forbes magazine feature.

I encourage you to visit their website and read more about all that they do! http://www.castla.org/homepage

 

All this may be a lot of information, but I hope you took the time to read over all of it.
I will be posting a video soon that summarizes some of this information and also adding a bit more to it.

I hope to continue making videos about this issue in the future, as all this information is honestly only the dipping of the toes in the water, so to speak. This issue is rampant and deeply embedded in our cultures. There’s a lot to cover and a lot to discuss. I hope you will also take an interest in this issue and raise your voice also to help fight this issue.

Thank you for reading!
Please pass on information about modern day slavery and human trafficking
And please support my effort to raise money for this charity with my artwork!

Sincerely,
Stephanie Oplinger


“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Matthew 25:34-40

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