Published in the Courier Mail 1 July 2010
If someone were to write a soundtrack for the world cup, it would be filled with the clamour of cheering crowds and the drone of the vuvuzela. However, if you listened very carefully, it would also include the cries of those who are part of another bustling trade during the World Cup.
Investigative journalist, E Benjamin Skinner, who wrote A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery, recently wrote of the way traffickers were preparing for the World Cup.
He said, “During a three-week investigation into human-trafficking syndicates operating near two stadiums, I found a lucrative trade in child sex. The children, sold for as little as $45, can earn more than $600 per night for their captors. “I’m really looking forward to doing more business during the World Cup,” said a trafficker.”
With 27 million people in modern-day slavery across the world, it is fast becoming the most profitable criminal activity. The face of human trafficking is, at times, devastatingly young. 80% of victims of sexual trafficking are women and the average age of a victim is 14, although there are reports of children as young as four being sold into sexual slavery.
Australia is not free from this scourge. In the tenth annual report about human trafficking, the US State Department gave us a mixed report card. It said, “Australia is a source and destination country for women subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically exploitation in forced prostitution, and, to a lesser extent, women and men in forced labour and children in commercial sexual exploitation.”
It can be overwhelming to consider the enormity of the problem, and yet we must not be paralysed by the size of the task ahead. Your very next action could be something that fights back against this terrible crime.
Start by becoming aware. Google the following organisations and find out what’s being done to fight the problem: Stop the Traffik; Not For Sale; The Blue Heart Campaign; The A21 Campaign; Project Respect; SHE Rescue Home and World Vision Child Rescue.
If you’re a movie buff, watch Amazing Grace: The William Wilberforce Story; The Jammed, an Australian film about sex trafficking in our nation; or Call + Response, a ‘rockumentary’ about the global slave trade.
Consider your consumption practises, and start to learn about goods produced without slave labour. Go to chainstorereaction.com and see how large brands are responding to requests for slave free products. Email a company to let them know that ethical business practises influence your buying choices. For instance, Cadbury now provides fair trade chocolate, but only in plain dairy milk. Why not encourage them to extend this commitment across all their lines?
Raise awareness and funds for one of the organisations you have learnt about by holding an event. It may be a small gathering of friends, or something much more extensive. Check out the Chocolate Fondue party at Stop the Traffik, using fair trade chocolate (of course) for an easy and delicious event idea.
Even the act of sponsoring a child can be a preventative measure, reducing the effects of poverty and ensuring children are provided with food, education and healthcare, decreasing their risk of being a victim.
It is possible for ordinary Australians to be connected with meaningful and tangible ways of helping. Every awareness campaign and every dollar raised makes a difference. It’s not okay that men, women and children are trafficked, in our country, or any country.
Now that you’ve stopped reading, it’s time to go and do something. Now. Because you can.
~ Ruth Limkin