Photo from npr.com
The following is a guest post from Conchita Sarnoff, Executive Director of Alliance to Rescue Victims of Trafficking:
Human trafficking took center stage last night when Steve McQueen won the Best Director Golden Globe for “Twelve Years a Slave.”
Slavery, or “human trafficking” as governments describe it today, has been around for as long as humanity. Unlike the seventeenth and eighteenth variety, today’s “slave” ranges vastly in origin, age and physical appearance, and different types and methods of slavery exist including organ, labor and sex trafficking.
According to the United Nations there are over 20 million slaves held in captivity worldwide. The more vulnerable the victim, the lower the risk and higher the reward.
The recent proliferation of TV and film focusing on human trafficking - movies that have brought this issue to light in 2013 include “Twelve Years a Slave” and “Taken” (the last movie to do so was 2005’s “Human Trafficking,” starring Mira Sorvino and Donald Sutherland) - are valuable, but they only expose a single dimension of a colossal, complex and global issue. In order to get people to take action, an honest film needs to raise the collective consciousness around the realities of this pandemic and show possible solutions.
Legislation at state and federal government is evolving, but not fast enough. Enforcement and accurate data are also lacking, and tracking victims at the local and state levels is inconsistent at best. Eradicating slavery is a complicated undertaking because slavery has a number of disguises (indentured servitude, serfdom, some types of adoption, child soldier captivity, forced marriages, etc.), and because historically slavery was institutionally recognized by many societies for economic reasons
As Executive Director of Alliance to Rescue Victims of Trafficking, I believe it is overdue for women of America, schools, and local communities to openly address this problem. The solutions that are needed to eradicate the slave trade, especially at the local level, can be created by the resurgence of a popular movement.
One way to start might be to contact our local congressional representatives and demand that they create legislation that allows safe houses to exist in each of their districts to help rescue and rehabilitate victims.