"A human trafficker can earn 20 times what he or she paid for a girl. Provided the girl was not physically brutalized to the point of ruining her beauty, the pimp could sell her again for a greater price because he had trained her and broken her spirit, which saves future buyers the hassle. A 2003 study in the Netherlands found that, on average, a single sex slave earned her pimp at least $250,000 a year." - RandomHistory

Friday, December 2, 2011

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

A superb day to wrap up the 2011 campaign. Actually, I'm just about to mail off the petition to Kevin Rudd & Julie Bishop.

Updated stats are:

30,000 people watched me live in Martin Place

23,000 visited the facebook cause (guesstimate after stats removed)
16,900 visited crushslavery.com
183 read the online newspaper I started last month
40,000 reached online

310,000 readers of MX newspaper
147,000 readers of The Sutherland Shire Leader
147,000 second time in The Leader
147,000 third time in The Leader
751,000 newspaper readers

Plus untold thousands reached second & third hand from folks forwarding the template email on to their friends & colleagues. (Thank you!)

148 joined the facebook cause
263 signed the online petition
123 signed the offline petition
5 people joined me doing push-ups
539 personal responses

Check out Crush Slavery News, and contact me if you're gonna join us next year, in Martin Place, or Sydney Airport, or wherever you want! We want to make this a viral craze like planking or extreme ironing.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

10,000 Push-ups in the Bag!

Yep, job done. And I'll be doing it all again next year! To keep in the loop, subscribe to Crush Slavery News and @crushslavery My hearty thanks to the folks that joined me in the campaign. Together, we can Crush Slavery!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Some great public awareness ads from Anti-Slavery Australia...

Domestic Worker

Trafficking for domestic servitude can happen in private homes. Debt bondage, coercion, exploitation, sexual assault, threats of deportation and social isolation may indicate trafficking.

Restaurant Worker

People who are trafficked may be unlawful or hold visas entitling them to work in Australia. Signs of trafficking may include debt bondage, deception, coercion, threat and control.

Agriculture Worker

This 30 second short film is about trafficking into agricultural work and shows how coercion, withholding of passport, non-payment of wages, and threats to report to immigration can be signs of trafficking.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Nearly done - for now.

Only 300 push-ups and 27 million slaves to go!

The first campaign is drawing to a close. (Just in time for the baby!) But this cause is just getting started. I'll be doing it again next year - even larger and louder.

I've totally found my lifetime calling here. We're all flooded daily by a barrage of great causes, but the combined effect only seems to make you keep your money to yourself.  You're best

Over the last 100 days, I've reached about 40,000 people live in Martin Place, 17,000 via facebook, and 11,600 via crushslavery.com, which makes nearly 70,000, plus untold thousands reached second & third hand from folks forwarding the template email on to their friends & colleagues. By way of responses, I've had 134 people join the facebook cause, 226 signed the online petition, plus 100 offline signatures, which adds up to a healthy 460 personal responses.  (And that's not even counting the newspaper readerships of 310,000 for MX and 2x 147,000 for both times in The Sutherland Shire Leader, totalling 600,000.)

But let's give the first campaign one last push: Forward the http://j.mp/slaverypetition link to all your friends!. :)

While we prepare for the next campaign, you might like to subscribe to the new online paper: Crush Slavery News. Stay in touch, and join me in 2012! We'll be taking this to a whole new level next year!

Watch out world - we're gonna knock slavery over in this lifetime!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

75% Complete

I never thought I'd get here, but tomorrow I'll have reached three quarters of my goal. Thanks to everyone who's stopped by to sign the petition and encourage me along the way. The number of people genuinely concerned about the issue of slavery has really encouraged me. Every lunchtime I drag myself down to embarrass myself yet again in Martin Place, but every time someone stops by for a chat and to sign the petition it really lifts my spirits. I always walk back to the office feeling much happier than when I left. So to everyone that's showed an interest, THANK YOU. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Half way there!

Thank you everyone for helping me spread the word. In the last 6 weeks, many people have learned of the scale and severity of the issues of human trafficking and slavery.

All going well, I’ll be hitting the half-way mark this Friday. If you’d like to celebrate my 5,000th push-up with me, then join me in the ground foyer on Friday at 12:25pm, when I head down to the MLC Centre to do my daily 100.

How you can help:
  1. Sign the petition
  2. Forward this draft email to your friends

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why am I doing this to myself?

Just cracked the 1/3rd mark, closing at 3400 push-ups for the day.  But it was a begrudging effort.  After a month of publicly humiliating myself day after day, you'd think it would get less embarrassing, or at least easier.  Nope.  The push-ups are still as unpleasant as ever, especially when I'm feeling a bit below par.

The same embarrassing act, consistently performed every day for a hundred days - I daresay this is one of the hardest things I've ever done!  Every lunchtime when I carry my cross box down to Martin Place, I ask myself why I'm doing this to myself.

But I only have to think of my delightful 3-year old girl in a few years time, just starting to blossom, kidnapped to serve an endless stream of fat, sweaty, porn-addicted men forcing her to do whatever disgusting things that their sick minds can concoct.  To think of my own daughter writhing in pain, then falling in a hopeless heap like so much human trash - now that's enough anger-fuel to keep any father going.

Just you watch and see - I'm gonna see human trafficking abolished before I die.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

25% done!

I hit the quarter mark tomorrow: 2500 push-ups!  Come celebrate the milestone with me at 12:30pm.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Email Your Friends

Want to really help the cause?  Would you consider sending this email to all your friends?

Dear All,

I wonder if you've seen Paul the Push-ups Guy in Martin Place recently?  I'd like to tell you about his "10,000 Push-ups to Crush Slavery" campaign, at http://www.crushslavery.com

When he learned that we have 27 million slaves in the world, and read some of the gut-wrenching stories about what many children and sex slaves have to endure, Paul got so upset that he put together this campaign, to do 100 push-ups every day for 100 days in Martin Place, in the heart of Sydney, just to raise awareness about the issue.

After many months researching the best methods to combat slavery, he believes the best way is how Wilberforce did it last time: to change public opinion, which in turn forces the hand of government.

So he doesn't want your money - just your influence.  Will you help us raise awareness by forwarding this email to all your friends?

What you can do:
1) Check out http://www.crushslavery.com/2011/06/press-release.html
2) Sign the petition to address the root cause of slavery, which is poverty http://j.mp/slaverypetition
3) Join the Facebook cause http://j.mp/slaverycause
4) Forward this email to all your friends.

Alone, he's just one crazy fella making a fool of himself in Martin Place.  But together, we can make a difference.

Thank you!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Why am I doing this?

I couldn't say it any better than Rob Morris, of Love146.org:
"The number pinned to her dress was 146..." 
In 2002, the co-founders of Love 146 travelled to South East Asia on an exploratory trip to determine how they could serve in the fight against child sex trafficking. In one experience, a couple of our co-founders were taken undercover with investigators to a brothel, where they witnessed children being sold for sex. This was their experience. This is the story that changed our lives.
"We found ourselves standing shoulder to shoulder with predators in a small room, looking at little girls through a pane of glass. All of the girls wore red dresses with a number pinned to their dress for identification. They sat, blankly watching cartoons on TV. They were vacant, shells of what a child should be. There was no light in their eyes, no life left. Their light had been taken from them. These children...raped each night... seven, ten, fifteen times every night. They were so young. Thirteen, eleven… it was hard to tell. Sorrow covered their faces with nothingness. Except one girl. One girl who wouldn’t watch the cartoons. Her number was 146. She was looking beyond the glass. She was staring out at us, with a piercing gaze. There was still fight left in her eyes. There was still life left in this girl...
"...All of these emotions begin to wreck you. Break you. It is agony. It is aching. It is grief. It is sorrow. The reaction is intuitive, instinctive. It is visceral. It releases a wailing cry inside of you. It elicits gut-level indignation. It is unbearable. I remember wanting to break through the glass. To take her away from that place. To scoop up as many of them as I could into my arms. To take all of them away. I wanted to break through the glass to tell her to keep fighting. To not give up. To tell her that we were coming for her…" 
“Because we went in as part of an ongoing, undercover investigation on this particular brothel, we were unable to immediately respond. Evidence had to be collected in order to bring about a raid, and eventually justice on those running the brothel. It is an immensely difficult problem when an immediate response cannot address an emergency. Some time later, there was a raid on this brothel and children were rescued. But the girl who wore #146 was no longer there. We do not know what happened to her, but we will never forget her. She changed the course of all of our lives."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

1200 push-ups done, 8800 to go!
That's 12% already.  Wow, this will fly past.

Thanks to everyone who's signing the petition - we just reached 100 signatures!

I'm gonna drop the 8:30am session, as there's heaps more folks around at 12:30pm. Every day I get one or two people asking me what I'm doing.  Now, just to get those folks to spread the word to their friends!

Come join me, every dry weekday, in front of the MLC Centre in Martin Place:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Country Where Slavery Is Still Normal

The Country Where Slavery Is Still Normal: Half a million Mauritanians are enslaved - about 20 percent of the population. "Mauritanian slaves are forbidden from owning property, a last name, or legal custody of their own children."

See You at Hillsong

I'm off to the Hillsong Conference for the next few days. They just asked me to do my push-ups on stage on Wednesday night before the night rally. All 100 in one go, in front of 25,000 people! Bring it on!!!

450 down, 9550 to go...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Push-ups with Christine Caine

This is way more than mere coincidence. This is amazing.

So on my first day of doing my push-ups in Martin Place, who happens to stroll by but the couple that first brought the whole issue of human trafficking to my attention: Nick & Christine Caine of The A21 Campaign! She even did some push-ups with me!

I'm blown away by the serendipity. I believe we call this a "God-incidence".

Friday, July 1, 2011

100 push-ups down, 9,900 to go!

Well, the first day of my campaign went well. I did 30, then 25, 20, 15. Lots of positive responses. MX newspaper called me up, with an interview on Monday. I appeared in the bank's magazine yesterday. This Backyard Abolitionist training is really exciting - the pieces are really starting to fit together for me. Thanks to all for your support. I'm pumped to be making a difference! :D

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I start tomorrow!

I'm heading off (right now) to Not For Sale's Backyard Academy training to learn more about Human Trafficking in Australia.

On the way, I'll be picking up my shiny new posters, printed at cost from the lovely guys at Marsh Media.

I did some practice push-ups this morning with my London / Hong Kong friend Paul Aldrich (he did 100, but I was dead at 60!)

So watch out for the crazy pushups guy in Leichhardt this weekend! Here goes!

The campaign starts tomorrow

I'm heading off (right now) to Not For Sale's Backyard Academy training to learn more about Human Trafficking in Australia.

On the way, I'll be picking up my shiny new posters, printed at cost from the lovely guys at Marsh Media.

I did some practice push-ups this morning with my London / Hong Kong friend Paul Aldrich (he did 100, but I was dead at 60!)

So watch out for the crazy pushups guy in Leichhardt this weekend! Here goes!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Press Release


To celebrate the new financial year, Sutherland Shire resident Paul Harvey is starting a 100-day campaign entitled “10,000 push-ups to Crush Slavery” on July 1st to raise awareness about Human Trafficking, Slavery, and Forced Prostitution.

“When I learned that there are 27 million slaves in the world, it made me sick to my stomach. Children are worked to death by age 14 picking some of the cocoa that goes into the chocolate we eat. Girls as young as 6 are sold into forced prostitution and internet porn. There’s whole villages trapped in generations of debt bondage, forced to break rocks in wretched conditions, with no chance of escape. Disposable children thrown overboard with rocks around their ankles to untie fishing nets. The whole thing makes me flaming mad. We simply cannot let this obscene injustice continue.”

“This issue has really caught me by the heart-strings, and I’m going all out to make my campaign as big as one bloke can make it. I’ve got signs, flyers, a website, a Facebook cause, a petition, and I’ve printed a whole range of custom-designed clothing that I've made available online, so now I’m a human billboard for the cause.”

So what does he want from us? Nothing but spreading the word. “This needs more than just once-off sponsorship donations. It needs a change in public opinion. And you can do that by joining my Facebook cause, signing the petition, and sharing it with all your friends.”

“I may be just a regular Dad from the Shire, just another cog in a big city bank, but I believe that I can make a difference, even if I do all 10,000 push-ups on my own.”

You can watch or join Paul doing his fifty push-ups in a suit at 8:30am and another fifty at 12:30am near the MLC Centre in Martin Place every weekday (as weather & council allows), and at assorted locations in Sutherland Shire on the weekend. You can track his progress, learn more about the issue, and join his Facebook cause at http://www.crushslavery.com.


In 2005, the International Labour Organization estimated a global annual profit of US$ 44.3 billion from all forms of slavery, and $33.9 billion from commercial sexual exploitation. Human trafficking is second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable illegal industry in the world.

With a profit margin of 70% or higher, virtually unlimited demand, and desperate poverty producing an unlimited supply of goods that virtually ship themselves “if you kick ‘em hard enough” - it’s a business model that many find simply too good to refuse.

Siddharth Kara’s 2006 research revealed that you can purchase a trafficked girl in Western Europe for an average of US $4 800 (a stunner of course, and already “broken-in” so you’ll get no trouble), then you can earn an average of US $10 570/month by renting out her body. In some countries you can buy a slave for as little as $5. People have become as disposable as paper cups.

And this is not just restricted to a few undeveloped countries. UNODC reports that people are trafficked from 127 countries, to be exploited in 137 countries, including Australia.

But the good news is that we can eradicate slavery in our lifetime, if we all do our part. The world’s leading expert on slavery, Dr Kevin Bales, outlined a comprehensive 25-year plan to abolish slavery in his book “Ending Slavery”. The book outlines hundreds of practical actions we can make at a personal, business, community & government level.



Sunday, June 26, 2011

Only 5 Days To Go!

It's only 5 more days till I start making a public spectacle of myself, and to be honest, I'm getting nervous!

1) I'm really not sure I can do 50 push-ups in one go.
2) I'm feeling rather alone in all this.
3) I'm rather afraid of making a fool of myself!

So it's time I reminded myself (and you!) why I'm doing this.

Did you know we have around 27 million slaves in the world? We’re not talking about the corporate ladder here, but children worked to death by age 14, picking 2-5% of the cocoa that goes into the chocolate you eat, women and girls as young as 6 sold into forced prostitution and internet porn businesses. The average price of a slave has fallen to US $90, and in some countries you can buy a slave for only $5. Enslaved children in Ghana are thrown overboard to untie fishing nets, with rocks tied to their ankles. Who cares if they don’t make it back up? It seems that people have become as expendable as paper cups.

And big business it is – In 2005, the International Labour Organization estimated a global annual profit of US$ 44.3 billion from all forms of slavery, and $33.9 billion from commercial sexual exploitation. Human trafficking is second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable illegal industry in the world.

Why? When you combine a profit margin of 70% or higher, virtually unlimited demand, and desperate poverty producing an unlimited supply of goods that virtually ship themselves “if you kick ‘em hard enough” - it’s a business model that many find simply too good to refuse.

Siddharth Kara’s 2006 research revealed that you can purchase a trafficked girl in Western Europe for an average of US $4 800 (a stunner of course, and already “broken-in” so you’ll get no trouble), then you can earn an average of US $10 570/month by renting out her body.

And this is not just restricted to a few undeveloped countries. UNODC reports that people are trafficked from 127 countries, to be exploited in 137 countries, including Australia.

As you can agree, this sickening social disease must stop. But the good news is that we can eradicate slavery in our lifetime, if we all do our part. I’m greatly encouraged by Dr Kevin Bales’ comprehensive 25-year plan outlined in his book “Ending Slavery”. There are a great many things we can do at a personal, business, community & government level. And how do we get the government to listen? Public opinion.

So that’s why I’m doing my 10 000 push-ups – to bring the issue to your awareness, and ask you to tell everyone you know about this crazy bloke who’s so upset about slavery that he’s out doing push-ups in Martin Place, 8:30am & 12:30pm every day for 100 days.

Please support me in spreading the word about this terrible injustice. Read more of this website, sign the petition, join the facebook cause, and take the pledge to invite all your friends. Let's abolish slavery together!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dr Kevin Bales: The Price of a Human Life

The world's leading expert on modern slavery, Dr Kevin Bales, on:
  1. Jumping Shrimp: Becoming an Abolitionist - 3 min 51 sec
  2. Defining Slavery - 2 min 33 sec
  3. Decline in the Price of Human Life - 4 min 54 sec
  4. Is the Answer in Chocolate? - 4 min 05 sec
  5. A Moral Watershed - 2 min 49 sec
  6. The Cost of Freedom - 3 min 12 sec

Treating it like a Business

Just read the Boston Globe's Katie Bacon interview with Siddharth Kara, who wrote Sex Trafficking - Inside the Business of Modern Slavery, a game-changing book that focusses on the economic drivers behind slavery.

"Depending on which country you’re in, it takes 1.5 to 2 hours of work at that country’s per capita income to purchase 1 hour of sex from a sex slave. ... If we were to revert back to where prices were a decade ago, by putting more cost and risk into the system…you [would] see a massive decrease in demand, because you’ve priced out of the market those low-wage consumers — like day laborers, taxi drivers, and tuk tuk drivers — who are now in the market."

How do you go about disrupting the business?

"The minute [you] pull someone out of a sex slave condition, [you’ve] cut off all future cash flows. In terms of a sex slave it’s 10, 15, 20, transactions a day, a week, a month, year after year. You’ve got to pull people out, care for them…and then prosecute and convict effectively. That means several things: fast track courts, judicial review, and an economic penalty regime that makes it uneconomic to be in this business. If you start to alter the landscape, then the perception by the offender is: This business doesn’t pay. Right now the perception is: Huge profit, almost no risk, I’m there. This is about money: It’s not cruelty for the sake of cruelty. I’ve met traffickers. Some of them are just mundane opportunists."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Consumer Choice

This cardigan I'm wearing - I paid a ridiculous $17 for it. How do I know that it wasn't knitted by slave labour?

In fact, the only product that I can say with any certainty is slave-free is Cadbury's plain milk chocolate, due to the Fair Trade logo. (Check this useful comparative report of three such logos.)

What I want to see is legislation that requires full disclosure of each product's supply chain, and mandatory labelling that ensures slave-produced goods are labelled as such, so that I as a consumer have the right to choose slavery-free products. For a while there I got all excited thinking we could have a central database of supply-chains integrated into a barcode-scanning iPhone app such as Free2Work.

But the problem is it's not as simple as that:

"WHY NOT BOYCOTT? In certain situations boycotting specific goods or countries can actually make the situation worse and undermine the economy of an already poor country. A boycott could hurt those in slavery-like conditions as well as those employers who are not exploiting their workers, and worsen the poverty that is one of the root causes of the problem. Support fair and ethical trade initiatives instead and use consumer power to encourage retailers and companies to move to the Fairtrade scheme."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why am I doing this?

Last year, I was outraged to discover that slavery still exists in our time. 27 million slaves. And we’re not just talking about genteel cotton picking "society." Every year, 2-4 million men, women & children are stolen, abused, raped, chained, caged, whipped, and beaten into submission with unconscionable cruelty, all in the name of the mighty dollar. Human Trafficking has surpassed drugs & guns as the most profitable illegal industry in the world, with global annual profits of $32 billion. "Trafficking guns & drugs is profitable, but people are much easier. Just kick 'em hard enough and they'll traffick themselves."

What sickens me most is that 80% of these people are women & children, and 70% of all female victims are forced into prostitution. The loveliest of our daughters are stolen away, or sold by their families for as little as $20, to eke out their few remaining days in forced prostitution, locked in disgusting brothel rooms until the beatings, forced drug addictions, internal injuries and cigarette burns break their beautiful bodies so badly that they are discarded like so much human garbage, while their tormenters just look for the next piece of flesh to abuse. You can buy a sex slave in a source country for as little as $90, or $10,000 for a trafficked, broken-in slave in the first world, but they’ll earn you as much as $250,000 a year.

The average age of a trafficked victim is 14 years old. Approximately 30 million children have lost their childhood through sexual exploitation over the past 30 years.

I have a delightful little daughter, and another on the way, and something fierce rises up in me when I think that any of our beautiful daughters are being stolen away into the torturous hell of sex slavery. To say I'm outraged puts it mildly. Try incensed, livid, or flaming mad. We simply must rid our planet of this disease, and I'm prepared to do whatever it takes to make that happen. Join me, and let your displeasure be known!

Sources: CNN Freedom Project, Stop The Traffik, UN.GIFTRandom Facts.

Monday, June 6, 2011

US Destination Statistics

I don't want your Money, I want your Influence

I’ve spent a lot of time reading up on the causes of slavery & human trafficking, and I believe the cure is two-fold:
  1. Public Opinion, and
  2. Long-Term Giving.
Since increasing people's awareness will naturally create donors, I'm not focussing on donations. Slavery was abolished the last time due to a groundswell of public opinion that forced the hand of political leaders, in the same way that apartheid was repealed. But as history has shown with apartheid and many other rushed liberations, it takes time to do it right. A once-off donation may soothe your conscience, but it takes years to liberate and rehabilitate people. The anti-slavery workers on the front line would much prefer a predictable $10 a month than a lump sum donation. As you learn more about the problem, your heart will naturally go out to these poor men, women & children, which I pray will lead to a deep-seated, long term commitment to rid the world of this disease.

So I don't want your money, I want your influence. Share this page on all your social networks. Join the facebook cause. Email your workmates. Tell your Mum about the crazy guy doing push-ups in Martin Place. Blog about it. And when I get this petition together, get everyone to sign it!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Human Billboard

A few weeks back I looked at my T-shirts and realised they're all bragging about somewhere I've been or something I've done. The Blogger T-shirt, the Visual Studio .NET shirt, Flying over Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Pamplona, The Tube, brag, brag, brag. I'm just over it.

So instead of advertising my own coolness, I've decided to become a human billboard for the cause I'm most passionate about: Human Trafficking. Two hundred bucks later, I have replaced my wardrobe with a range of gear I made at CafePress, Vistaprint & Zazzle, plus a hoodie and drink bottle from Real Men Don't Buy Girls. From now on, I am a human billboard for liberty.

Will you join me?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Crush Slavery

I've been thinking about a catchy domain name for this blog. All the good names are gone, such as endslavery.com, stopslavery.com (I like this one), etc. The push-ups made me think about squashing, pressing down on, and so forth, so a little thesaurus time gave me this winner: crushslavery.com. Very masculine. Makes me think of the Solo guy crushing a can. And since we can't just bring slavery to a dead halt next Wednesday, you have to exhert pressure over time - to put the squeeze on it - to crush it.

In my SEO research, among a great range of references to our hero Abraham Lincoln, I found these interesting links on crushing slavery...

Crushing It to Crush Slavery: The Key to Eradicating Sex Trafficking in Our World

Reid out to crush 21st-century slave trade - Good on ya, Mr Reid!

And an amusing quote by Alexander Milton Ross in 1875:
"What a glorious future awaits the United States, when slavery is forever crushed, and the energies of her enlightened millions shall be devoted to extending the principles of freedom and self-government over the continent of America, and in welcoming the poor down-trodden masses of Europe!" - Recollections and Experiences of an Abolitionist

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Breaking Grounds

"Sophia recoiled with sheer horror when asked about her abduction at knifepoint while walking home one evening on a rural road about a kilometer from her home.

"I could hear the car approaching and suddenly I froze. I could not move," the eighteen-year-old Romanian said, nervously spinning her shoulder-length black hair in her fingers as she recounted the nightmare that became her life for the next four months.

"Two men with knives forced me into the car. I thought they would rape me and then kill me. I prayed that my life would be spared. Instead, I was driven to a river crossing where they sold me to a Serbian man. He took me across the Danube River in a small boat and then to an apartment in a town in the mountains. I don't know the name. But I soon learned I was in Serbia."

Sophia was horrified by what she witnessed during her brief imprisonment in the building. Her experiences continue to haunt her in her sleep, and are typical of what women encounter in the breaking grounds.

"There were so many young girls in there. They were from Moldova, Romania, Ukraine and Bulgaria. Some were crying. Others looked terrified. We were told not to speak to each other. Not to tell each other our names or where we were from. All the time, very mean and ugly men came in and dragged girls into rooms. Sometimes they would rape girls in front of us. They yelled at them, ordering them to move certain ways... to pretend excitement ... to moan ... It was sickening."

Every single girl was physically and emotionally abused by the heartless goons who ran the center.

"Those who resisted were beaten. If they did not cooperate, they were locked in dark cellars with rats with no food or water for three days. One girl refused to submit to *****, and that night the owner brought in five men. They held her on the floor and every one of them had ***** on her in front of all of us. She screamed and screamed, and we all cried."

The next day, the girl tried to hang herself. "Many girls attempted suicide," Sophia said. "I was told a few were successful and their bodies were buried in the woods." Sophia's biggest fear was being broken in herself.

"I dreaded that moment. In the first day, I thought to myself, I will fight back. Then I saw what they did to one girl who refused. She was from Ukraine. Very beautiful, very strong- willed. Two of the owners tried to force her to do things and she refused. They beat her, burned her with cigarettes all over her arms. Still she refused. The owners kept forcing themselves on her and she kept fighting back. They hit her with their fists. They kicked her over and over. Then she went unconscious.

She just lay there, and they still attacked her *****. When they finished, she didn't move. She wasn't breathing. There was no worry on the faces of the owners. They simply carried her out."

A couple of days after the Ukrainian girl had been taken away, one of her compatriots dug deep for the courage to ask about her. The owner's reaction was sharp, swift and brutal.

"He grabbed her by the hair and dragged her outside. When she returned, she looked like she had stared death in the face. She told us the owner took her to a forest not far from the building, handed her a shovel and instructed her to dig. She believed she was digging her own grave. As she dug, she noticed a fresh mound of earth beside her. She was certain this was the grave of the Ukrainian girl."

After an hour, the man snatched the shovel from the girl's hands and ordered her out of the shallow pit. His message was clear: "Ask any more questions and you will end up in the grave."

On her third day of captivity, Sophia was "trained." She submitted without resistance. She moved as she was told. She feigned excitement at every thrust.

"I knew I did not have the strength to endure what would surely follow if I resisted. That night, I just wanted to die. I was so humiliated. To these men, I was just a piece of meat. From that moment on, I have felt like filth. I cannot wash that feeling from my body or my mind no matter how hard I try."

A week later, Sophia was sold to a pimp along with two other women. She was now his. She knew him only as Saba, a twenty-something Albanian. The three were taken by truck into Albania and then smuggled into Italy in the dead of night on a speedboat across the Adriatic. Saba was a particularly nasty sort, with a penchant for threatening his "property" with burning cigarettes. He put the women to work on Via Salaria, a busy roadway leading into the Eternal City. They were housed in a damp basement apartment where they slept on foam mattresses. The pimp kept all the earnings, except for a small stipend for basic necessities and food. "For certain, he made a thousand dollars a night from us," Sophia said. "We were not permitted to return to the apartment until he had that much money.”

Three months later, with the help of a sympathetic regular, Sophia ran away and was taken to a Catholic rescue mission in southern Italy."

- Victor Malarek, The Natashas, p32-35.

Look a little closer

"In every metropolis around the globe, trafficked girls mingle freely with the women who choose to take money for sex. On the surface, it's hard to tell them apart. They dress and look the same. They have the same inviting expression. They smile, they pose, they flaunt and they strut. That's what prospective clients and the public see in the bars or streets.

"But that's also what the pimps make certain they see. What they miss entirely is the darker side of the trade. It's an ugly side, hidden behind heavy padlocked doors in rooms with iron bars on the windows and armed thugs in the hall. There, the striking blonde smiling coyly on the street may have been beaten with electrical wires the evening before. Behind these walls, the sweet-looking brunette who stands shyly on a corner with the innocent gaze of seventeen-year-old schoolgirl may have just been indoctrinated into the trade by two guards and a pimp intent on "breaking her in." This is the side that keeps them on the street and this is the side that keeps the smiles on their lips. They stay because they fear what will happen if they run... and they smile because they know what will happen if they don't.

"If their "clients" looked closely at the bodies they're using, they just might see some of the telltale signs — bruises peeking through under cheap flesh-colored makeup, whip marks on the buttocks, cigarette burns on the arms. If they paused long enough, while reaching their climax, to actually look into these women's eyes, they might see frustration, revulsion, fear, depression, resignation, anger, shame... And if they asked the woman they're with why she does what she does and actually took the time to dig into her past, they might hear how she was kidnapped from an orphanage in Ukraine, smuggled out of the country, sold at an auction and forced onto the street by a money-grubbing pimp who forces her to bring in $500 a night.

"In short, they're forced to do whatever it takes with whoever asks, as long as he pays, and they're forced to do it with a smile on their face, a sparkle in their eyes and a moan on their lips... exactly as trained in the breaking grounds."

- Victor Malarek, The Natashas, p42.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

More Community-based Freedom

"Using the power of governments or the United Nations would seem to be the way to end slavery once and for all. But while governments, in time, may indeed be the most powerful forces against slavery, today they are not. At present, the most efficient engine for freeing slaves and keeping them free is when a community makes a conscious collective decision to do just that. As far as I can tell, more slaves are freed every year through community organization than any other way; they are also freed more efficiently, and their freedom has more permanence. What's more, the critical and needed rehabilitation after liberation happens more quickly and with greater power when it grows from the community. Recent local elections in India demonstrate this.

"I have always been amazed and moved by the resilience of freed slaves, but I was stunned when the election results were announced in rural Uttar Pradesh in early 2006. In the preceding months the Sankalp and other activists in the antislavery movement had been helping hundreds of slaves who had recently come to freedom, some of them the people in the village of Azar Nagar whom we met at the beginning of this chapter. We knew that these ex-slaves would be working hard to better their lives, but when I heard that ninety-nine freed slaves had decided to run for office, I was astounded. I was also a little worried that the disappointment of election defeat would be a real setback for them. Then, two weeks later, I heard the news that floored me: of the ninety-nine running for office, seventy-nine had been elected. In a groundbreaking change for rural Indian politics, thirty-one of the newly elected ex-slaves were women. This rapid transformation from slave to elected official demonstrates how powerful the community approach can be. Looking at other ways to end slavery, today and in history, I have found nothing like this. Yes, some ex-slaves were elected to office in the Deep South after the American Civil War, but they did so with an army of occupation to back them up, and as soon as that army pulled out, they were quickly pushed to the side or worse.

"The local self-help groups of ex-slaves are also having a profound impact on the natural environment. Remember that the slaveholders destroyed the national forests with illegal strip mining. Now in villages like Azad Nagar, villagers are replanting the forests. Free the Slaves helped Sankalp and the villagers raise funds, and now more than ten thousand trees have been planted. And these are not just any trees; the villagers are planting the five species of trees that Mahatma Gandhi recommended for village prosperity-trees that supply food, fuel, fodder, fiber, and flowers. When whole villages come out of slavery, it seems miraculous. Now I feel I need a word for "more than miraculous" when I see recently freed villages replanting forests; landscaping strip mines into watersheds, ponds, and irrigation systems; building schools; putting an end to child trafficking and "slaveproofing" their villages; electing their members to office; and startLng new businesses. What powerful forces for freedom are locked up in every slave! It is up to us to find the best ways to set those forces free."

 - Kevin Bales, Ending Slavery, p82.

The Price of a Slave

The average price of a slave has decreased.

Community-based Freedom

Regarding villages trapped in bonded-labour slavery: "In these communities, across different continents, languages, economies, and governments, the same story keeps unfolding: no matter how powerless and poor, with just a little help, people will do whatever is needed to get slavery out of their lives and homes. Over and over, when a community believes there is a realistic possibility of freedom, it becomes unstoppable - even when there is risk.

"Understanding that fact is crucially important, because when it comes to ending slavery community-based freedom may be the best strategy of all. Rescuing individual slaves can leave the criminal slave-based businesses intact, and soon a new slave has taken the place of the freed one. But when a whole community drives out the slave traders and the slaveholders, freedom is firmly set in place. Breaking the cycle of slavery will also free a community to smash through other problems that support slavery, like illiteracy, poverty, and disenfranchisement. Slavery is a blood-sucking parasite that leaves a community paralyzed and stupefied. Get rid of slavery and, with a little help, a village can actually slave-proof itself. The process of confronting and defeating slavery shifts power to the community, which means achieving community goals like good education and economic stability becomes possible. In turn, education, economic stability, and learning to work together are a vaccination against slavery. Without slavery incomes go up, children go to school, and corruption falls. There will still be problems, of course, since every community is made of people who have different interests and goals, but now the community is moving forward without the dead weight of slavery holding it back. "

 - Kevin Bales, Ending Slavery, p79.

"Freedom spreads like a virus"

"Freedom spreads like a virus"

 - Kevin Bales, Ending Slavery, p69.

Human Trafficking compared to Murder

"Today, the rate at which we are cracking down on this crime is nothing to be proud of. Note that the FBI reports about seventeen thousand murders every year in the United States. Not surprisingly every police department of any size has a homicide unit. Now compare that situation to the fact that the government says about seventeen thousand people are trafficked into slavery in the United States every year. When it comes to murder, more than twelve thousand of those seventeen thousand homicides will be "cleared," that is, solved and brought to trial. How many slavery and trafficking cases were brought to trial last year? Slightly over one hundred. Imagine the public outrage if America's police could solve only one hundred murders a year out of the seventeen thousand committed! The day will come when most police departments have a slavery and trafficking unit next door to the homicide unit, but every day that passes until that happens is another day in hell for thousands of slaves."

 - Kevin Bales, Ending Slavery p57

It all boils down to Public Opinion

"Unlike the abolitionist movements of the past, the fight for public awareness and public opinion today has three great advantages. The first is that the moral argument is already won; no government or organized interest group is pressing the case that slavery is desirable or even acceptable. No minister is standing in the pulpit and giving Biblical justifications for slavery. The second advantage is that the monetary value of slavery in the world economy is very small, so the end of slavery threatens no country's livelihood. No country can say, "We would like to end slavery, but we just can't afford it." The third advantage is that, for the most part, the laws needed to end slavery are already on the books. Given these advantages, bringing an end to slavery requires the political will to enforce law, not campaigns to make new laws. But political will (in most countries) is directly proportional to public awareness and concern. Until slavery reaches the public agenda, slaves will continue to suffer."

- Kevin Bales, Ending Slavery - How we free today's slaves, p27

What will you do to stop Human Trafficking & Slavery?