I was nearly speechless last week when a friend asked, “What is modern day slavery?”
“Women forced into prostitution,” I blurted. “Forced farm labor!” Is what I see and read about every day invisible to the average American?
Twenty-seven million people–the population of Saudi Arabia–are enslaved today. Human trafficking is so lucrative drug dealers are getting out of the poison business and into the slave trade. And still people are clueless.
Today slaves work long hours–and sometimes into odd hours of the night–in some nail and hair-braiding salons at the local mall. Small children in India carry back-breaking loads of bricks, often to pay off loans their parents incurred. Slaves today may be paid but their remuneration is pitiful and often at the whim of a violent, abusive master. Their living quarters are crowded and unhealthy. They are kept isolated and often tortured to keep their silence, murdered if they fight back or try to escape.
Chelo Alverez-Stehle, a documentary film maker who has made the fight against human trafficking–and especially sexual trafficking–her life’s work, has produced Sands of Silence: An Exclusive Look Into Human-Trafficking http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=235632916468217&oid=172945319711&comments.
In the two-minute excerpt available on Facebook, Virginia tells how she was “hit” and taken with her three-month-old baby to an abandoned house where “they [did] business with my body.”
“We have to start talking about this as a society,” Alverez-Stehle explains, “because legislatures are starting to listen and change laws to protect the victims and also to put an end to actions of traffickers who are protected by politicians in many countries. There’s a lot of money that is made.”
Virginia survived her enslavement but remembers being afraid to say anything against her captors because “even if one explains, nobody will understand.”
We must explain and we must make the average citizen understand so no one will ever ask “what is modern day slavery?”
Victims of all forms of slavery can get help at the Survivors of Human Traffic Foundation .