This is a guest post by Beeb Ashcroft
Originally from London, England, Beeb Ashcroft moved to the US in 1989. Currently residing in a resort town on the north Oregon coast, she works out of her home as a freelance journalist. She writes for a variety of publications, including The Feminist Review and her personal blog, Contest Corner.
27 million people worldwide are estimated to be enslaved by human trafficking. In this day and age, we'd like to think that such an unthinkable industry would have diminished - but it has been suggested that there are more slaves in the world today than at any time in human history.
How does this happen? People are trapped by human trafficking in many different ways. Some are abducted, some are sold into slavery by their
relatives, and others are tricked by phony job offers - only realizing the truth after it's too late. Slavery rings are often run by organized crime syndicates.
Women and young girls are the primary victims of human trafficking - used for prostitution and forced labour, enslaved individuals suffer unimaginable torture. Beaten. Starved. Raped. Dehumanized. Children are often gang raped to "break down their resistance", and are highly susceptible to HIV/AIDS as a result.
Are you enraged yet? When I read facts like these, I feel so upset and powerless. Where do we even begin to stop such widespread atrocities? The good news is, we're NOT powerless - we can do something to help. I was recently introduced to an organization called The Emancipation Network, which works to fight slavery and empower survivors. Founded by Sarah Symons and John Berger in 2005, the couple started this grassroots organization using their life savings. Symons was inspired when she saw a room full of beautiful purses in a Nepalese shelter that had been made by survivors during art therapy. It occurred to her that these could be sold in the US to benefit the women who had made them. Today, the Made By Survivors Store markets a wide selection of beautiful handicrafts, empowering these former slaves with sustainable income. T.E.N. also works to prevent human trafficking in high-risk areas before it happens, as well as providing education to young girls who did not attend school because they were enslaved. And the stories of hope on Sarah Symons' blog are inspiring.
In an effort to raise awareness for the plight of these victims and gain support for T.E.N, I am hosting a giveaway on my website for a Garnet & Marcasite necklace handmade by a survivor in Bangkok. Anyone can enter by leaving a comment on the post, so if you would like to check it out and help me spread the word, click here. The contest has been successful so far - a couple of readers were so moved by what they read that they made donations or purchase an item from the store. It's free feminist swag for a great cause, so please stop by and enter before April 24th!