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Years ago, when I was on a medical mission to Calcutta, India, I stopped in a sari shop to pick up something for my daughter. As I went to pay, I looked down and saw a group of tiny eyes peering up at me through the floor boards. At first, I thought it was the shop owner’s family, but as my time in the shop wore on I became convinced that it wasn’t his family, and that he was trafficking girls. I left the shop, and never said anything. I didn’t tell the embassy or the local police. Those eyes haunted me. I swore that never again would I remain silent and would spend the rest of my life giving a voice to the voiceless.
Vulnerable people are trafficked and exploited in the commercial sex trade and labor industry every day in the United States and worldwide. In 2014, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline received reports of human trafficking cases in each of the 50 states and D.C. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. Of those, 5.5 million are children. In 2014, an estimated 1 out of 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims.
The men, women and children that are exploited by traffickers are just like you and me. Some want to be policeman or firefighters; others, nurses and teachers. Human trafficking is the human rights issue of our time. As global citizens, we cannot afford to let the exploitation of our most vulnerable populations go unnoticed or unpunished – if you see something, say something.
To report a tip, Call: 1-888-373-7888 or Text: HELP to BeFree (233733)
Photo Credit: Joyce N. Boghosian
Be The change
There’s no doubt that the world has made a lot of progress in the last several years, but for girls and women, there’s still work to do. Check out our great partners below who are doing important work on this issue.
the number of human trafficking victims globally
of the trafficking victims are children
of human trafficking victims are women and girls
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ECPAT International is a global network of organizations working together for the elimination of child prostitution, child pornography and the...
Rescue thousands. Protect millions. Prove that justice for the poor is possible.
Polaris, named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., disrupts the conditions that allow human...
#ONEderWoman of the Week: Sara Minkara
When Sara Minkara was just 7 years old, she completely lost her vision. While this was a very scary and difficult experience for her, the support of her family and school system helped her to overcome her challenges and become a successful, confident student. While Sara was able to go on to attend Wellesley College, she realized that if she had grown up in her parent’s native country of Lebanon, then she might not have been afforded those same opportunities. In some communities in Lebanon, severe social stigma against blindness exists, with parents who are embarrassed of their children and even hide them away, preventing them from going to school. However, Sara, a 2015 Echoing Green fellow, believes that everyone should have a chance at success, which is what motivated her to start Empowerment Through Integration (ETI) with her Wellesley classmate, Maysa Mourad, in 2009. They started by creating Camp Rafiqi in Tripoli, Lebanon. Over the years they have added more camps in Beirut and Nicaragua. These four-week camps host both sighted and visually impaired kids. Campers participate in traditional activities like sports and arts and crafts as well as learn how to balance a checkbook and go grocery shopping. ETI’s goal is for their camps to encourage blind youths and show them that they can accomplish anything despite their disability. Sara hopes that these kids and teens can go on to promote change in their own communities.
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