Just a few days ago, on December 2nd, was the 'International Day for the Abolition of Slavery' - a day created by the United Nations. I wouldn't have known, if I wasn't following closely the activities of the Ricky Martin Foundation and their Executive Director, Bibiana Ferraiuoli, who published an article on the Huffington Post titled "It's Time To Finally Abolish Slavery."
That headline made me so curious that I spent a good amount of time since then to read up. How bad could slavery really still be? Didn't hundreds of thousands of soldiers alone in the United States fight for an end of slavery long ago? Could it really be true that a being so intelligent like man, still hasn't evolved to a level where slavery and abuse of others are just memories of a cruel past?
And some real disgust starts to develop.
When I read that "an estimated 300 million children worldwide are subjected to violence, exploitation and other forms of abuse", I find myself in utter disbelief. Even more so, when this number increases every year by millions and, as Ben Skinner points out in his book A Crime So Monstrous, "there are more slaves in the world today than ever before."
UNICEF estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked every year. They are sold by their parents or simply kidnapped or getting lured into a trap, that seems to offer something, which then it doesn't. Their spirits are broken, often their bodies, too. The destinies are heartbreaking.
While I'm reading all of this, I can't help but think of my little 2 year old. About the love that shines from his eyes when he sees me, how I feel when I watch him run or dance or trying to explain something to me... and then I read on -- about the 10-year-old girl sold in Bucharest for 50 bucks to serve some 50-year-old pervert as a sex slave for how often and how long and for whatever he wants. How sick is this? Who are these pervs buying other humans like a toy and abuse them in whatever weird way and why are they doing this?
My friend and teacher, the Venerable Metteyya from Nepal, tells me, that the area of Lumbini in Nepal, where he comes from, is one of the world's hotspots for human trafficking in the world, especially of children, little girls. Culture there is very different, girls get married with less than 15 years and they generally are seen as a burden by the parents as the families have to pay for their upbringing and don't bring any return. So sometimes, obviously, parents just get rid of them by selling them. Alone to write a sentence like that feels like plastic, like that can't be true, but it's happening every day somewhere in the world, thousands of times! I'm positive, those parents try not to think about what they are doing to them and or must be so pressed by economical circumstances, that maybe they think they are doing these children a favour. I don't want to think of any other possible explanations.
A few years ago, Metteyya set out to change that and created a school, from scratch, which is today serving over 900 children. Many of them girls, who otherwise would not have been able to get any education other than learning how to clean clothes in the river and cook some hot meals. The model of the school is simple: girls don't pay and the families of the boys pay as much as they can. If the family is better off, they pay more and if the family has nothing, they pay nothing. And surprise, it works. With educating this next generation of parents, the consciousness of what is actually happening and that humans cannot just be sold like objects, is being changed. If they had the financial means, they could even serve many more children and expand to other locations. And already in the near future, we will come out with a project to help there from everywhere, over the internet.
But not even looking that far, the Ricky Martin Foundation in Puerto Rico, is working towards ending slavery and human trafficking. They are involved in education and concrete projects, for example a first holistic center, where victims can find help. And in my humble opinion, that education and raising of awareness is key in solving this problem.
Not everybody can dedicate his or her life or a huge amount of money or time to venture against this modern pest. But the least any of us can do, is to support those who actually do something. Even in the busiest month, we can find a moment to donate online to any such organization doing even little steps, and those little steps will lead to wave of awareness ending this modern slavery. The time is now. Every one person trafficked is one too many and we need to collectively win this fight.