Fighting human trafficking

The Not For Sale campaign to end modern slavery Photo: Mauritanian girl by Reus ("Not for sale!")

ARLINGTON, Va, November 1, 2011 – Wasn’t slavery abolished over 150 years ago? Yet today many adults and even children are so physically brutalized or psychologically terrorized by their “employers” that they work as virtual slaves, utterly afraid to run away from the terrible conditions in which they live. It would be unreasonable to demand that every person on earth be guaranteed a middle-class living, but no human being should be coerced against his or her will to work for another.

The crime of modern-day slavery often seems to be so pervasive and entrenched worldwide that one might feel it is impossible to change it. However, there is some cause for hope. A number of groups have emerged to fight human trafficking.

One such group is Not For Sale, whose website you can visit by clicking here. Not For Sale was founded by Californian David Batstone, who became involved in the anti-slavery movement when he learned that the proprietor of one of his favorite local Indian restaurants was trafficking women from abroad to work in his business. They worked for him not willingly, but in fear of his threats to disclose their illegal status to the police. One of the women died from leaking gas in the unventilated apartment where she and her co-workers were kept by their “employer.”

Batstone became so angry that he started Not For Sale, a group that seems to be growing in influence, judging from some of the media links and planned events posted on its website.  These include at least two CNN interviews and an announcement of the first Asia Pacific Forum on Human Trafficking to be held this week in Thailand.

The group, which emphasizes “smart” activism, communicates its message effectively; for example, on the Not For Sale website’s homepage, one of the first things one sees is the thought-provoking greeting, “Welcome to the movement to re-abolish slavery.”

One of many encouraging aspects of Not For Sale’s work is a campaign to enable consumers to use an app on their smart phones to quickly find out information on how a particular company’s product was produced, and whether the product was made free of slave labor through every step in the supply chain. As Batstone puts it, “None of us want to wear people’s tragedy; we don’t want to consume their suffering.”

To hear a CNN interview in which Batstone describes this strategy, which in addition to educating consumers involves working directly with businesses, visit this link.

Not For Sale describes part of its philosophy as follows:

“We cannot act solo if we want to make an impact; to be part of a network of activists generates social power. The pioneer generation needs to enable people’s natural connection toward collaboration, exchanging ideas, learning from one another, and learning to trust one another in new and different ways. … We can’t predict the path that we are going to follow, but because modern-day slavery is touching the deepest places of conscience, we are uniting to end it.”

In fact, as people increasingly become aware of the problem and begin to follow their consciences, there is an increasing hope to end human trafficking.

“Initially, it shocks the general public to learn that slavery still exists and is widespread. It is even more shocking for them to realize that it may exist in their own backyards.” – Not For Sale

Read more of Clark Eberly’s Stories of Faith in the Communities at the Washington Times.


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Clark Eberly

Born in Lafayette, Indiana and I grew up mostly in the northern part of Texas. From 1982 to 2009, I worked as a research librarian at the Washington Times. Most important, I'm married to Silvia, my best friend. We have a son, Brian, and a daughter, Sonja, both of whom are a great blessing.


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