January 01, 2019
Many years ago I started my Martial Arts journey to challenge myself and step outside of my comfort zone. During my time with Boars Martial Arts and Females Fighting Forward I have developed an extensive skill set, assisting regularly in teaching self defence to children, women and men. What I wasn't expecting was the skills I had developed, would lead me down a path of pure purpose.
Although a full-time nurse, a mother of three and a martial arts lover I always felt there was something more out there for me. A few years ago, I heard founder of the A21 Campaign, Christine Caine, speak about child sex trafficking and I immediately knew this was something I wanted to get involved with, beyond raising awareness and much needed fundraising. I've often said awareness without action is ineffective - we need to act on what we know, as even a change of behaviour can have a positive effect.
Over the past 4 years, I've been humbled and privileged to teach self defence in South East Asia to rescued teenage girls, their caregivers, social workers and some of the rescuers who go into bars and brothels to rescue them. Back home in Australia, I speak in high schools and community groups raising awareness about modern day slavery and how we can all do our part; prevention is always better than cure!
"the recruitment, transport, harbouring or receiving of someone through force, fraud, coercion or abuse of power and vulnerability, for the purpose of exploitation".
Whilst it is something many of us do not understand or even known about, human trafficking is the second fastest growing crime, currently grossing $150 billion per year (more than Nike, Google and Starbucks combined!).
Child sex trafficking is a result of many factors combined including poverty, lack of education, vulnerability, corruption within governments and law enforcement and unfortunately, consumer demand. Research shows that white western men are among the most popular consumers of sex trafficking. Experts claim that western culture has contributed greatly to the sexual objectification of women in third world countries due to the idolisation of beauty and youth.
Along with many factors, western culture largely contributes to the sexual objectification of women due to our a society that idolises appearance, beauty and youth. In our sexualised culture which can often be unintentional, it's that attitude that is growing our porn consumption and the prostitution industry (which is becoming more violent as boundaries are continually being pushed). This is linked to visiting bars, brothels and sex shows in developing countries, viewing illegal porn and even gaming.
So while we can't all travel overseas and 'save' these children, we can all do our part to reduce the demand. Simple steps such as avoiding clicking on porn, purchasing sexual services, or attending sex shows in third world countries. In addition to this, we can help by asking ourselves if our own lifestyle choices (language, conduct, clothing, entertainment etc.) is contributing to the culture of sexual objectification of others. By taking a stand against sexually explicit or inappropriate material we can reduce the demand and in turn, reduce the supply.
If you have training in areas such as education, law, management, social work, the justice system, accounting, criminal intelligence, digital marketing, international studies, etc. there are plenty of roles and opportunities to get involved with Non Government Organisations to bring about change. Some of these include:
IJM - https://www.ijm.org/
A few years ago, the general public became aware of the child slave labour involved in our chocolate production, which led to a huge push to source our chocolate ethically. This was mostly due to the tireless efforts of those who had been campaigning for years for awareness and change.
Remember the carbon footprint quiz to find out how your lifestyle choices impact our planet? Well you can take the slavery quiz to find out how many slaves work for you through your every day purchases and lifestyle choices ....... you'll be surprised!
Ever wondered how we can buy things so cheaply in some stores? Every time we purchase from them we keep people in slavery. And if you're like me then you want to prevent people working in "sweat shops" and other slavery type conditions, but you also don't want the big name companies making unfair profits. Our purchase choices will affect supply and demand. Here's a few links to get you started on ethical purchases, or download an app on your smartphone.
So what happens to someone when we stop purchasing from a company that uses slave labour? Again, the law of supply and demand. When we purchase more from those who pay their staff better, they will need more staff.
Other elements still need to be addressed such as poverty and education. Better education increases the opportunity for a higher skilled job which earns more money.
So again, if you have training in marketing, accounting, management, education etc, there are various opportunities to become involved and bring about change within organisations or policy making within government. But it takes time.
Modern Slavery explained - Because of coercion, deception or threats, a person is not free to leave their situation. Someone exercises ownership of them and they are subjected to slavery like conditions. In the past, physical chains were used. Now people are chained psychologically through poverty or debt, control of movement and threats to their family.
Bonded Labour - where someone is forced to work because they owe someone a debt. The work required is far in excess of the debt and exorbitant interest is applied. Often never repaid and is passed on to future generations. Often seen in domestic and labour hire.
Forced Labour - where someone is not free to stop working because of the use of coercion, threat or deception. Happens in spinning, weaving and dyeing mills in India where cotton knit fabric is then exported around the world.
Here's some examples of Slavery in Australia today:
Did you know trafficking increases dramatically at large sporting events such as The Superbowl in America and even Clipsal here in Adelaide? Migrant workers are often trafficked in for their labour, while many women and ( men ) are trafficked in to provide sexual services, as there is not enough local sex workers to meet the increased demand.
In Nov 2018 the Modern Slavery Bill was passed in Australia in both state and federal levels. This will strengthen our laws and help educate and empower authorities to stamp out slavery in all it's forms.
When one country makes a stand, it enforces the consequences of criminal activity to those who exploit others, sends a different message of support to those who are trapped, and encourages other countries to do the same.