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January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition defines Human Trafficking as the recruitment, transport, sale, or receipt of persons within or across national borders through force, fraud, or coercion to place the persons in slavery or slavery-like work conditions. Traffickers use violence, threats, blackmail, false promises, deception, manipulation, and debt bondage to trap vulnerable individuals in horrific situations. https://patcoalition.org/
In short, it is slave trading and is a horrific crime and violation of human rights where a person is exploited into slave labor or sexual exploitation. It is also considered a hidden crime because victims frequently do not seek help due to language barriers, fear of their traffickers, or fear of law enforcement.
Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” NO ONE, not one person. One person is too many.
“A common misconception about human trafficking is that it does not happen in the United States. This is false, as the United States is ranked as one of the worst countries globally for human trafficking. It is estimated that 199,000 incidents occur within the United States every year.” https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/human-trafficking-statistics-by-state
One of the most descriptive, true stories I’ve found on the topic of sex trafficking is a book titled “I Am not Your Slave” by Chris Lockhart and Tupa Tjipombo. Tupa Tjipombo is the pseudonym of a Nambian woman from South Africa who was trafficked by an evil network across the continent of Africa up to the United Arab Emirates into the hands of a “collector”.
Tjipombo thought that putting the descriptive truth out for people to read would be much more impactful towards eliminating this horrific crime than just a statistic on a page. In my opinion, she was correct. Her story was very difficult to confront and believe that this type of evil exists in our world today. It definitely inspires a person into action! Her perpetrators included individuals from various countries including the United States of America where slavery was “abolished” in 1865. You can find a full interview with Lockhart and Tjipombo here: https://www.thefirestone.org/2020/07/20/we-touch-the-world-and-the-world-touches-us/
Another form of human trafficking is labor trafficking and debt bondage. Harold D’Souza, founder of Eyes Open International, has dedicated his life to ending this modern-day slavery because he knows how much the victims suffer–he once was one.
Originally from India, D’Souza is well-educated and experienced in sales management. He has a Bachelor’s in Business and a Master of Commerce from The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Harold stepped down from a senior management position in order to pursue the American Dream which he believed was within his reach. Harold came to the U.S. following the advice and encouragement of a man who would soon after becoming his trafficker. For over 18 months, Harold was exploited and tortured at the hands of the human trafficker, losing his freedom and struggling to keep his family safe.
D’Souza is an example of turning obstacles into opportunities. United States President Barack Obama appointed him to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking in 2015 and he continued his service under President Trump through July 2020. D’Souza is also an expert consultant to the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. To listen to more of his story, click here: https://www.thefirestone.org/the-podcasts/ scroll to Episode 13.
There is currently a Bollywood Blockbuster Film being made on D’Souza’s slavery nightmare. Actor Martin Sheen is the Executive Producer of the documentary titled “To Be Free” which is produced and directed by Benjamin Ryan Nathan.
Tjipombo and D’Souza are true Human Rights Heroes! Their strength, courage, fight for freedom and pure greatness are an inspiration for all human beings. Let’s join together with these heroes and put an END to the atrocity of modern-day slavery.
What can you do about it?
If you suspect someone may be a victim of human trafficking in the US, call the National Hotline immediately: 1-888-373-7888.
Another action you can take is to visit the US Department of State’s website for 20 ways you can help fight human trafficking. https://www.state.gov/20-ways-you-can-help-fight-human-trafficking/
For information on how to educate others on this and all their 30 human rights along with suggestions for taking action, click here: https://www.humanrights.com/take-action/get-active.html