"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

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.

What will you do to stop Human Trafficking & Slavery?