Monday, August 22, 2011

Week 7: Human Trafficking

I met Ro Potter when she came to teach at the Children at Risk School in Tijuana last March.  We hung out throughout the week, and became friends.  It was great to have her teaching this week here in my Children at Risk school, not only because she is incredible teacher with a wealth of knowledge on the topic of human trafficking, but because it was like I had a friend come into town.  After Ro finished college she moved to Korea to teach English, and ended up working with Korean women in prostitution.  Over the next few years, Ro began travelling throughout Eastern Europe to do research on the problem in this region.  She is now working out of Salem, Oregon working with the Women and Children's Advocacy Centre as part as the Anti-Human Trafficking team.

She started the week by giving us an overview of human trafficking.  There are 5 types of human trafficking:
1. Sex Trafficking
2. Slave Labor
3. Organ Trafficking
4. Forced Begging
5. Child Soldiers.

In all of these areas of trafficking, there is an abuser taking advantage on vulnerable people.  Whether they are children being forced to work in cocoa fields to produce the chocolate we eat, doctors removing organs for illegal sales, or girls being tricked by traffickers and forced into brothels, all of these people are stripped of their rights and forced to live without choice.  They are caught up in a 32 billion dollar industry.

Throughout the week Ro talked about push and pull factors.  Push factors, being the things that push people into the trade, and pull factors being those that pull people in, like dreaming of a better life.  We talked about push/pull factors for both victims and the traffickers, and heard stories and testimonies of both.

Trafficking is something that is happening everywhere- big cities, rural towns, Asia, Central America, Africa, and the United States.  To hear stories and statistics, I was overwhelmed with the extent that life is devalued.  It's hard to believe that something so dark and evil is so common in our world.  And it was shocking to me how ignorant I was on the whole topic.

I asked Ro countless questions of how girls get involved, how people are trafficked across international boarders when visa laws are so strict, and about how to recognize when people are involved.

Human trafficking is way more prevalent than you and I think.  It's a problem that has been on the rise and existing for years, and until now is getting it's proper awareness.

Here is an ad by the UN that Ro showed us that warns people of all nations, with different hopes and aspirations about the trap of human trafficking:

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