8 Things You Should Care About: Part II

Following on from yesterdays post about the different issues that we must consider when we want to do something about human trafficking, here are my second four. -  Gender Inequality

When you consider that 80% (US trafficking in persons report) of the transnational victims of human trafficking are women and girls we are forced to ask questions about equality of women around the world.  Many of us don't feel this inequality so vividly in our western lives but the undercurrents are there.

They are there when we challenge gender roles, they are there when we look at parenting styles, they are there when we open our newspapers, in the lyrics of songs on the radio and in the representation of women in our governments and boardrooms.  Unfortunately we still have a long way to go to and until we see brave men and women promoting, supporting and empowering each other in all areas of achievement, life and leadership, we cannot expect to see changes that particularly view females as weaker, easy targets and prey.  And that is just the challenge for more developed countries.

If we then take in the treatment and view of females in developing countries, you can see how trafficking thrives:

-  Dowry systems in South Asia put a price on girls from a young age, this tradition sets the girl up as saleable goods in her own eyes, and everybody else’s.

-  Many developing countries have traditional community attitudes and practices that tolerate violence against women.  This facilitates trafficking.

-  Nearly half of women in Uganda and more than half in Tanzania reported having been physically abused by a male teacher.  Education and opportunities are compromised.

-  Lack of legitimate and fulfilling employment opportunities for women, particularly in rural developing communities can lead to risky migration decisions.

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Who are the women and girls around you?  Are you promoting their worth and value?  Are you encouraging them to lead?

-  Poverty

Traffickers exploit need. The people they prey on are those struggling with poverty, desperate to improve their lot in life. Whether it's a family in Dehli with 8 mouths to feed or a family in Derry barely surviving below the breadline; poverty is a brutal force that can drive people to desperation and give exploiters a green light.  We need to be tuned in to poverty around us if we want to see who could be vulnerable to being trafficked.  This isn't an exercise in scaremongering, but the reality is harsh.  How can you tackle poverty where you are?  It could be something simple like donating to a local food bank or hamper programme.   How can you tackle poverty around the world?  Keep up with organisations like Oxfam and Save the Children for ways to get involved or participate in their work.

-  Sexualisation

I've discussed the prevalence of over-sexualised music and imagery in the mass media on the blog before.  It's not a secret that we are ALL exposed and lured in by the sexy things of our culture.  It's like a car crash in the middle of the road and we're all snatching a nosey as we drive past.  Some stop to look longer than others - literally buying into meaningless sexualised culture provoked and promoted by sleazy outlets on our magazine racks, satellite tv stations and video games.  I'm bored of it all.  This culture of value on the most provocative headlines is wasting away our sense of worth and is turning people into commodities to be consumed.

Did you know that the average age of first Internet exposure to pornography is 11 years old?  ELEVEN.  Where do you even go from there?

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The more we continue to let this issue spiral, the more responsible we all are for the desensitisation to sexual violence and the increase of exploitation.  Campaigns like No More Page Three are calling out the unnecessary and blatantly misogynistic traditions that most of us have come to accept - add your voice to this.  Where can we inject dignity and place value in our culture that redeems this?

-  Ethical Living

Do you buy stuff?  Do you know where it comes from?  You would be surprised to know how many of the everyday products we buy and use are contaminated by practices that exploit and abuse human rights.  It's a tricky business sourcing stuff that is made ethically but we can be wiser and more deliberate about our consumer habits.

Our family is committed to traffik-free chocolate - chocolate that is certified by Fairtrade/Rainforest Alliance/UTZ.  Stop the Traffik has been leading the way in campaigning the big chocolate companies and informing the masses:

'Over a third of the cocoa that makes the world's chocolate comes from the Ivory Coast, Africa. It's highly likely that the beans that make your favourite chocolate bar come from here.  Thousands of boys as young as 10yrs old, from the Cote D'Ivoire and neighbouring countries, are trafficked to pick and harvest these beans. Their freedom is taken and they are forced to work long hours on the cocoa plantations without receiving any money for their work. They are beaten and work in dangerous conditions using machetes to open the cocoa beans.'

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It's just one small change, but if the average person spends £200 on chocolate a year, I know where I'd rather give my cash.  You can join in too - Stop the Traffik are calling people to action on this to mark EU Anti-Trafficking Day by signing up to a thunderclap to bombard one of the biggest chocolate companies to be accountable for promises they have made to make their chocolate 'traffik-free'.  DO IT HERE! 

Another go-to website for ethical information is Ethical Consumer.  It rates companies and brands based on several different criteria.  Find out where your stuff comes from.  Make sure you are contributing to this issue with your wallet.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on some of this stuff - do you agree?  What have I missed?  Do you feel like there is something within the last two posts that you can grab onto and do something about?  I hope you can.  We need you.

Mel