Spurred in part by confronting mortality (as everyone does when their parents die) and deciding to aim all this random righteous anger I tend to spew on the internet in a constructive direction, I have been mulling over what I should do. I don’t like people very much and since most humans are idiotic, self involved bastards about the environment, I was heavily leaning toward environmentalism.
Then Saturday night I had a horrific nightmare about girls being kidnapped and raped in an abjectly poor, undeveloped nation. I won’t go into detail, but only say it was horrific and the fact that in the dream I stood there doing nothing was devastating. It was probably prompted by Boko Haram kidnapping the girls in Nigeria to sell them into slavery as well as some personal experiences I don’t want to get into. This isn’t about me. This is about what is happening to women, men and children across the planet right now.
When I awoke the next morning I Googled articles about the Nigerian kidnappings when something else popped up.
April 17th, 2014:
A tip nearly five years ago led to the arrests of 40 people, including 30 in Winston-Salem, over the past few years on state and federal charges of human trafficking, prostitution and kidnapping, authorities said Thursday.
In August 2009, a Winston-Salem resident gave investigators a tip about a brothel, said Lt. David Lamb of the Winston-Salem Police Department.
Investigators eventually learned that the brothel was part of an organized prostitution ring that moved women and girls in and out of the state, Lamb said.
An undercover police detective who worked on the case said that the victims paid to be smuggled into the U.S. and were told that they would get legitimate jobs here. When they arrived, though, they were forced into prostitution, the detective said.
The victims came from Central America, including such countries as Honduras and Guatemala, the detective said. A minor was among the victims.
Investigators identified 25 brothels in North Carolina, nine of which were in Winston-Salem. The brothels were scattered around the city, including in the Robinhood Road area, the Thomasville Road area, the Easton neighborhood and off University Parkway and Shattalon Drive, police said.
The suspects face a total of 76 charges at both the state and federal levels. Several law enforcement agencies contributed to the investigation, including police in Asheboro, Durham, Greensboro, Raleigh and Kernersville.
Vincent Picard, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said his agency focuses on stopping human exploitation, including sex trafficking and prostitution.
“We are concerned about women being in trafficking against their will,” Picard said. “No one agency can address a problem like this by itself.”
City police identified one Greensboro resident and six Winston-Salem residents who had key roles in the prostitution ring…
This wasn’t Miami or New York City. This wasn’t even Charlotte or Raleigh. Winston-Salem has a population of only 236,000 people, only slightly larger university town I live in here in NC when school is in session. And low and behold, I discovered that a smaller sex trafficking ring had been uncovered here as well in 2011.
I read that NC is a high risk state for trafficking slaves, and let’s call it what it is: slavery, because it is a highway hub to move slaves up and down the East Coast and out into states west of us.
So slavery is not some problem that only poor countries or countries with certain cultures have. It is a worldwide problem pervading even even some of the most developed nations in the world.
Nor are all the victims women or children used for sex.
Forced labour takes different forms, including debt bondage, trafficking and other forms of modern slavery. The victims are the most vulnerable – women and girls forced into prostitution, migrants trapped in debt bondage, and sweatshop or farm workers kept there by clearly illegal tactics and paid little or nothing.
Almost 21 million people are victims of forced labour – 11.4 million women and girls and 9.5 million men and boys.
Almost 19 million victims are exploited by private individuals or enterprises and over 2 million by the state or rebel groups.
Of those exploited by individuals or enterprises, 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation.
Forced labour in the private economy generates US$ 150 billion in illegal profits per year.
Domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment are among the sectors most concerned.
Migrant workers and indigenous people are particularly vulnerable to forced labour.
The clothes you buy may come from slaves.
Even the shrimp you bought in the past may have been the product of slaves.
And slavery is here in our backyard.
There are many international groups trying to combat this heinous criminal institution. But not so many here in the U.S.. The Polaris Project seems to be the leader and has an incredibly high rating on Charity Navigator.
But I want to do more than send money. There are a couple small groups in the area, but they don’t seem to actually do much. We don’t seem to have an organization here on campus (I’ll check more thoroughly), so it seems the logical idea is to get something going. The prospect is a bit daunting, but if it isn’t scary/a challenge, it’s not worth doing, right?