Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Modern day slavery : Voice of Russia

Source: Voice of Russia

Aug 22, 2012

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Approximately 30 million people are entrapped in some form of slavery, according to Not For Sale. Despite the fact that The International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition is August 23, it feels like only a partial victory. In Thailand, India, Latin America, The Netherlands, and Romania people are still being kidnapped and forced into the sex industry.

Spectators never see the whip being cracked, the unstoppable tears, or the constant tension both slave and master have with one another, but the truth is only half the reality.

“Slavery is going on today. It is still going on and is allowed to continue because there’s not enough public outcry,“ said Sarah Symons, founder and executive director of, an organization which empowers survivors of slavery by teaching them how to make jewelry and other goods, to the Voice of Russia.

A persistent problem, that is not a just a national stigma, but an international uproar. As poverty is one of the top contributors of the slave and forced labor trade, more victims are created by the traffickers’ keen manipulation techniques and threats of death or destruction to their family.

Trade in the modern day does not discriminate against anyone, no matter what gender, color, or nationality. A person is deceived by being lured in with promises of making lucrative wages in another country. Yet that is only a pipedream, and they are made to work without wages until they are drained of their dignity, pride, and what looks to be their soul.

Women may be in the spotlight as a woman from Cambodia tells her story of struggle and courage that really puts a face on the issue of slavery. Her visual example is a video that can be seen on YouTube by the name of Sex For Sale In S/E Asia 1 from jdoodlesdocumentarie.

Symons knows all too well as the victims who come into her program are reluctant to make eye contact and may come off as very angry and sad individuals. Often times, they are distrustful of others which can be seemingly understandable at the same time. After the first 6 months of recovering from the trauma, progress can definitely be seen.

Traffickers are sneaky as they find ways to stay off the radar by either hiding their property in brothels or selling them off. “Exploitation happens behind the scenes,” said Jessica Henry director of marketing and communications of Not For Sale, an organization dedicated to decreasing the number of humans that are taken for slave purposes.

Over half of the time, the trafficker is a stranger, yet over 40 percent of the time, it is a family member or friend who sells the person into the trade. In various instances, this is by accident. Members of the family may give their child willingly to a stranger and are promised their child will go to a nice school or be able to make money for the family. However, the opposite happens, and they may never see their flesh and blood again. The traffickers are all around, but no one can see them.

“I think we’re seeing hotspots in Thailand, India, Latin America, Amsterdam, and Romania,” mentioned Henry about the various people kidnapped and forced into the industry. Though these are reported incidents, other countries with low or no activity at all still face scrutiny, as it is unclear if slaves aren’t there or if they are just being hidden really well.

“To me, they are possessed by an evil,” said Venita Benitez founder of and activist against the slavery of all humans. She believes all traffickers have a cruelty inside of them that makes them do what they do.

During The International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition, people can do more than they think to reverse the cycle of slavery in the here and now. “We have to rage war on slavery,” said Benitez. Assisting organizations like End Slavery Now or donating to the Protection Project are ways to contribute.

A smaller way to help is to be more aware of what is being purchased. If people are what they eat, then people should realize they are what they wear. Many times, goods people buy are made from the hands of children, who are held captive., who weighs out a company’s efforts to ensure that children and forced labor are not part of its supply chain, is a useful resource for consumers to use.

In retrospect, the slaves of the past are not like the slaves of the present. The desire to save others seems to have grown stronger as can be seen on the Polaris Project ‘s website, where advocates give guidance to real victims, whose stories are so gut wrenching, they are near impossible to ignore. 

“Be honest about it, start talking about it and take action,” expressed Symons.

Unfortunately, as long as there are buyers in the market, the slave trade will stay alive. With the power of education, resources given by non-profits and assistance from the government, people can reverse this. “We’re seeing improvements and progress,” told Henry. A day will come when the word slave will be as extinct as the dinosaurs.
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