human trafficking

The Sexual Freedom Project: More Ethical Prostitution

(También en Español)

How do you think prostitution can be legalized, protecting the right of individual choice, while at the same eradicating unethical sex slavery and human trafficking?

Make a video, write a poem, song, or an essay — or even create an original work of art — and express your thoughts. If we feature your contribution on the site, we will send you a free VenusPlusX t-shirt to thank you.

Video edited by Tiye Massey.

Chocolate’s Child Slaves

News of Note: Chocolate’s Child Slaves

Everyone loves chocolate. But for thousands of people, chocolate is the reason for their enslavement.

The chocolate bar you snack on likely starts at a plant in a West African cocoa plantation, and often the people who harvest it are children. Many are slaves to a system that produces something almost all of us consume and enjoy.

The CNN Freedom Project sent correspondent David McKenzie into the heart of the Ivory Coast – the world’s largest cocoa producer – to investigate what’s happening to children working in the fields.

His work has resulted in a shocking, eye-opening documentary showing that despite all the promises the global chocolate industry made a decade ago, much of the trade remains unchanged. There are still child slaves harvesting cocoa, even though some have never even tasted chocolate and some don’t even know what the word “chocolate” means.

Slavery still exists in our modern world. It is easy for most people in developed countries to live oblivious lives without ever hearing of these atrocities going on across the world. We all know that slavery is not okay; it is the fundamental denial of ones humanity. At the very least, we can be educated consumers that do not fuel these inhumane practices.

Human Rights Day 2011 – Part I

Today is Human Rights Day 2011. To mark the occasion, this video is from Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by a committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, and was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948.

This Declaration contains a number of Articles that directly relate to sexual freedom, and that apply to issues around human trafficking, marriage equality, and being lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (LGBT). There is a prohibition of the slave trade in Article 4 that directly relates to human trafficking, when it states “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” Regarding marriage equality (also known as “gay marriage,” a term that does not adequately describe the issue), Article 16, Section 1 says, “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.” Clearly, the United States is in violation of this article, as are most countries around the world.

Whether we point to the right-wing religious zealots (such as “The Family”), including American congressmen, who are helping to pass laws that would imprison for life or execute LGBT citizens in Uganda and other countries, or to the police who harass and unfairly prosecute trans people here in America, our world is filled with rampant violations of Article 7, which states unequivocally “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.”

What does the concept of “human rights” mean to you? Do you believe that sexual freedom is a human right? Does your country respect your human rights, and if not, how could they do better? What role can we play in improving human rights in other countries, including those relating to sexual freedom? How can we ensure that sexual freedom is considered and included as a priority in discussions about human rights around the world today? Have you ever felt that your human rights were being denied? If so, how did you feel, and what did you do to respond? What have you personally done to help promote human rights here and/or abroad?

Let us know what you think. Make a video, write a poem, song, or an essay — or even create an original work of art — and express your thoughts on these topics. If we feature your contribution on the site, we will send you a free VenusPlusX t-shirt to thank you.

Coming in Part II, on Wednesday: Obama and Clinton’s historic efforts confirming LGBT rights as human rights

The Sexual Freedom Project: Human Trafficking

Today’s video comes to us from the Demi & Ashton Foundation (DNA Foundation) and is about human trafficking: the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery. Some important facts from their website:

Today, more than twelve million people worldwide are enslaved.[1] An estimated two million children are bought and sold in the global commercial sex trade.[2] The sex slavery industry has become an increasingly important revenue source for organized crime because each young girl can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for her pimp.

While this is a problem in many countries, many Americans don’t realize that it happens here at home as well. Thousands of children are forced into domestic sex slavery each year and that the average age of entry is 13 years old.[3] The majority of American victims of commercial sexual exploitation tend to be runaway youth who live on the street, often who have left homes where they were abused or abandoned. Pimps prey on their vulnerability. These girls are our neighbors, our friends, our sisters and our daughters. [Footnotes on their site.]

The DNA Foundation website includes a comprehensive list of important organizations that are working on this issue. How much have you heard about this important subject? Has it personally affected anyone you know, a neighbor, a friend, a relative? Do you think the topic is getting the public discussion and the media attention that it needs and deserves? Do you think people may be uncomfortable talking about it? What can we do to make it okay to talk about this subject, and what can we as individuals do to stop this practice?

Let us know what you think. Make a video, write a poem, song, or an essay — or even create an original work of art — and express your thoughts on these topics. If we feature your contribution on the site, we will send you a free VenusPlusX t-shirt to thank you.

Human trafficking

A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together. — Margaret Atwood

Back in 2009 while in Uganda, I found myself involved in a scam that fell neatly in the stereotype that Nigeria is the NO.1 source of scammers. I am not sure about that but I was conned by a South African-Nigerian. His name was Nick Oppenheimer, a supposed COO of a family business in South Africa.

He promised to offer me a job. He told me that it would be easier to start with owning shares in the company and because I was poor, he offered to buy shares for me, which he “did” through this address:  Barnard Jacobs & Mellet Holdings Ltd,  24 Fricker Rd, Illovo, Johannesburg  2196 .

Apparently, huge amounts were paid for stock in my name and I started receiving trade alerts of this nature Mr. MOSES MWOREKO KUSHABA,  Petrosa shares of 4400 units have been credited to your A/C registered with us.  Barn Mell Ltd.

I was then asked to send some money to my  account through an Inter-Bank transfer in Lagos, Nigeria, after which, my employment letter would be sent to me by Mr. John Cray.

I was so excited and borrowed $100 to send to Lagos, and subsequently I received the employment letter. Then I was asked to send more money.

Nicky, my supposed boss to be, was on a tour of the company’s business in Nigeria. He told me he would pass through Uganda to take me to South Africa.

While in Nigeria, I talked to “him” on phone and he started telling me to send more money. At this point, I began to investigate the company.

I sent an inquiry to the actual organization about my accounts status, and quickly learned this was a scam. During that same time, there were many employment agencies that were recruiting people for jobs in UAE, and in talking to my friends, we remembered this. This ended my search for employment in those companies.

Human trafficking is real. Desperate situations put people in compromised situations leading to suffering, like Masud’s story. Many end up as domestic slaves or indentured sex workers.

Masud was 12. His parents were persuaded, tricked, to let him be taken from his home in Bangladesh to a new life in England. He was sold, “Trafficked.”

He left his home with an unknown man who travelled with him to London then onto the southwest where he was abandoned in an Indian restaurant. To survive he worked in the restaurant, lived in one of its small store rooms, sleeping next to jars of chutney and bags of onions. Sometimes when there was no work he was forced to sleep on the streets. He was not able to go to school and his life was controlled by the restaurant owners.

When he was 28, with the help of STOP THE TRAFFIK, he contacted the local police and immigration team who helped him to obtain a passport and identity documents, resulting in him being able to return to Bangladesh.

Stories like Masud’s are happening all the time, making people trafficking the world’s fastest growing illegal trade.

Let’s take a moment and look at the statistics from UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.

1.4 million – 56% – are in Asia and the Pacific

250,000 – 10% – are in Latin America and the Caribbean

230,000 – 9.2% – are in the Middle East and North Africa

130,000 – 5.2% – are in sub-Saharan countries. An estimated 2.5 million people are in forced labor (including sexual exploitation) at any given time as a result of trafficking.

270,000 – 10.8% – are in industrialised countries

200,000 – 8%- are in countries in transition

Sexual Trafficking – The Facts – VIDEO

These helpless people need a voice. There are many operators just like “Nicky” out there who need to be exposed and dealt with to avoid more stories like Masud’s.

The State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2011 provides a detailed account on this issue.

What do you think of when you hear the term “human trafficking?” Do you know someone who is in your country as a result of it? Tell us your ideas for solving this most horrid aspect the the global culture of sexual violence?


Image by Steve Weaver, used under a Creative Commons Attribution License.
Image Description; An exhibition set up in Trafalgar square from September 22nd to the 30th 2007 by the Helen Bamber organization to highlight and lobby the government to the shocking trade of sex trafficking and enslavement happening on our doorsteps. To find out more and to sign a petition go here.