Monday, December 12, 2016

Reflecting on a Year of Anti-Trafficking Work

By Sister Jean Schafer, SDS*

December 2016 offers us an occasion to look back and see how collaborative efforts within the anti-human-trafficking community have reaped concrete successes.
  • There are more residences and programs dedicated to providing safe havens for women and children coming out of situations of sexual exploitation and providing them healing from physical and psychological abuse.
  • Tech companies are designing tools to help enslaved workers be able to anonymously report on their plight and get help via their cell phones.
  • Consumers and retailers are growing in awareness of the importance of monitoring the supply chains of goods manufactured and brought into the country for sale. The tragedies of collapsed garment factories or of fish caught at the expense of enslaved men on fishing boats far out at sea is less and less tolerated.
  • Children, forced to work in dangerous mineral mines so we can buy new electronic devices every year, are no longer so easily ignored.
  • Parents are demanding that social media companies provide real online safety for their children.
  • Travelers expect hotels to prevent access to porn on their in-room cable channels.
  • Documentaries and fictional films have brought the reality of human trafficking into our vision and consciousness at increasingly meaningful levels.
These important achievements are the results of creative efforts by experts, as well as in response to expectations of concerned citizens.
We ought to feel a real sense of accomplishment and gratitude for these signs of progress, thanks to hard work, perseverance and creativity. Our global community becomes more compassionate as these efforts extend outward toward the vulnerable.
December 2016 can equally be an occasion to look ahead to the new year 2017 with resolve to continue our efforts, to invite more people to get involved, and to hold accountable those responsible for exploitation within labor sectors of every sort all over the globe.
  • More needs to be done to help parents find the information they need to protect their kids from tricks of online predation or Internet lures into pornography.
  • More needs to be done to help men realize their responsibility to help end the demand for the sexual exploitation of others.
  • More needs to be done to require businesses to monitor supply chains and discontinue contracts with suppliers who exploit workers.
  • More needs to be done to recognize sporting events as occasions of labor exploitation and sexual exploitation.
  • More needs to be done to see clearly how human trafficking advances when we ignore the interconnections among global climate change, political unrest and war, and the mass migrations of people. Being forced to leave home, culture, and means of a livelihood makes people prey to exploiters, who profit from their vulnerability.
Let us make it our collective resolve that in 2017 we will find groups with which to collaborate for the benefit of our global community, with special attention to lessening the harm and exploitation of the vulnerable.

*Sister Jean Schafer SDS is the Compiler/Editor of the ‘Stop Trafficking’ newsletter and a member of the USCSAHT Board of Directors.

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