In 1833, the British Parliament abolished slavery in (most of) the British Empire via the Slavery Abolition Act. Thirty-two years later, the 13th Amendment outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States. According to our laws, both countries do not sanction slavery. We thought slavery was abolished in the 19th century, yet today there are tens of thousands of people enslaved in these two countries alone.
Frederick Douglas, a former slave and abolitionist said, “They would not call it slavery, but some other name. Slavery has been fruitful in giving herself names … and it will call itself by yet another name; and you and I and all of us had better wait and see what new form this old monster will assume, in what new skin this old snake will come forth.” He was right. Today we call it “human trafficking,” and once again, we must expose this practice and declare it unacceptable.
We are grateful that there are leaders in both the US and the United Kingdom that are working to protect victims and prevent children from being traded as commodities, and last week, we were privileged to stand beside some of them.
Just this past week, by invitation from the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Right Honorable John Bercow and Mr. Peter Bone, a Member of Parliament and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking, 100X Founders John and Lindy Blanchard traveled to the UK to mark Anti-Slavery Day. Over the course of two days, they attended the Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking Conference and met with leaders from Parliament and the Council of Europe to discuss how we can leverage our resources and work together to end human trafficking across the globe. It is evident that these leaders are committed to this fight, and we are honored to stand with them with great expectation of what is to come.
WHAT WE’RE DOING TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime today—generating $31.6 billion annually. Each year more than 1.5 million children are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, and it is estimated that 99% are never rescued. The innocence of childhood is exchanged for the profit of others. This is a crime that knows no boundaries—whether geographic, ethnic, or socio-economic—but the most vulnerable are those who have no one to speak for them. On five continents, we are working on the front lines to prevent children from falling victim to this horrific crime.
Protection and Empowerment. To date, we have partnered with nonprofits across the globe to build 31 houses for orphans and vulnerable children, and in 2011, more than 500 children were reached. Each of our programs provides a safe and loving home environment where children are able to complete their education and learn life skills that will provide the foundation for a hopeful and productive future. Our work protects the most vulnerable children by providing access to caring adults, educational support, health care and job training.
We recognize that entrapment in human trafficking is often the result of poverty and lack of resources, so we have also established a consortium of university partners who are working with us to develop education and workforce development programs, as well as opportunities for continued education at the university level.
Education and Mobilization. In a speech before the House of Commons in 1791, William Wilberforce stated, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.” We are committed to exposing the evil of human trafficking, and providing resources for those who choose not to look away. The criminal network working to ensure the continuation of this exploitation is strong, and complete abolition will require engagement at all levels—from students to heads of State.
One of my most vivid memories is standing on a pier in Elmina, Ghana and looking into the eyes of a child slave. I imagine the experience is similar to meeting a child that is entrenched in any abusive situation and does not believe there is any hope for the future. Everything within me was urging me to take him and flee, but as I looked around it was evident that there were dozens more just like him. At that moment, I felt as hopeless as he appeared.
I have also had the privilege of meeting survivors of both sex and labor trafficking, and while that does not remove the ache in my heart for the young boy in Ghana, it does renew my hope. Each person that I have met has been in various stages of recovery—some so recently freed that they still bore physical marks of their abuse—but each has had, at minimum, a spark of hope in their eyes. Proof that restoration is attainable.
At 100X, we are working hard to make sure that vulnerable children never experience the abuse of human trafficking. We focus primarily on prevention because we’re aware of the harsh reality that 99% of victims are never rescued.
In the United States, it is estimated that a runaway (or homeless) youth is approached by a trafficker within 48 hours of living on the street. One in three will be exploited for commercial sex. The average age of entry into commercial sex? 13.
We also know that children that have been in the foster care system are especially vulnerable—both circumstantially and emotionally. This is one of the reasons that we are so pleased to have Adullam House as one of our partner organizations. Adullam House is a 100X partner whose mission is to care for children whose mothers are in prison. Children at Adullam House are loved and protected—and they are taught that their life has purpose. Very quickly, the vulnerability created by their past begins to lose ground, and they become less susceptible to recruitment by traffickers.
The vulnerability of youth is compounded in developing countries—especially for young orphans. The children that we work with in Malawi, Peru, Mexico, India and Uganda face the same challenges as children in the US, but there are even less safeguards and fewer laws to protect them. In many cases, law enforcement is corrupt and often contributes to the problem. Exploitation begins at a younger age, and children are often forced across borders—away from all that is familiar. The same is true in Moldova.
Our work in these countries aims to protect those that traffickers will target most. In some cases, children have already been exploited before they enter our care. This is where restoration takes place. We believe that every child, regardless of past circumstances, has been created for a purpose and we are committed to providing the resources and education they need for a hopeful future. Last year alone, we were able to protect more than 400 children.
Every child has the right to grow up without fear of exploitation and abuse. Will you help us reach one more?
How YOU can help LEVERAGE…
Speak Up—Post a message on Facebook or Twitter (mention @100XDevelopment or #100X and we’ll respond), send an email, or talk to your friends and co-workers. The more people who know about and support what we are doing directly impacts how much we are able to accomplish!
Give—we want to reach as many young girls as possible, and we cannot do it alone. You can make a donation, give up your birthday, run a marathon—be creative! We’ve designed a Razoo page to help you get started.
Pray—pray for the children, for those working to help them, and for exposure of those who are exploiting them.
If you have questions, or want to run an idea by us, email our team at Leverage@100XDevelopment.com.
–Kimberly Casey, Special Assistant and Program Manager