Resources to Help You Help Stop Human Trafficking

Today is a day of new hope, of change, of the vision of a better world for all. Our new president, and all of us, have a long to-do list of personal and systemic changes to make in order to help create a humane world. One of those changes should be an end to human trafficking worldwide.

Last week (January 11) was Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the U.S. A day dedicated to bringing attention to the plight of the millions of men, women and children around the world who have been abducted, coerced or tricked into modern day slavery and labor. Most often the exploited are women and children, and many times they’re forced into sexual slavery. Amanda from End Human Trafficking did a nice post about 10 films about human trafficking to watch. I’ve posted most of them here, along with a few additions, and some useful websites. The first step in systemic change is learning more about the issue. Use these resources to help you.

Born Into Brothels (2004)
Academy Award-winning documentary about the children of prostitutes in India.

Call + Response (2008 )
Call + Response goes deep undercover where slavery is thriving from the child brothels of Cambodia to the slave brick kilns of rural India to reveal that in 2007, Slave Traders made more money than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined.”

The Day My God Died (2003)
“Entering the brothels of Bombay with hidden cameras, The Day My God Died documents the tragedy of the child sex trade, exposing human rights violations and profiling the courageous abolitionists who are working towards change.”

Features “investigative footage of the dark and hidden world of sex traffickers, pimps and buyers. Demand exposes the men who buy commercial sex, the vulnerable women and children sold as commodities, and the facilitators of the sale within the marketplace of exploitation.” From Shared Hope International.

Fields of Mudan (2004)
“When Mudan, a frightened, young Asian girl, is forced into modern day slavery by the brutal child brothel owner, Madam Zhao, the only solace she finds is through the memory of her Mother and the promise that she would one day find Mudan and take her away to America: the place where dreams come true.”

Holly (2006)
A docu-drama about an American stolen artifacts dealer in Vietnam who tries to save a young girl from child traffickers.

Lilja-4 Ever (2002)
A Swedish film about a teenager who is abandoned by her mother in the former Soviet Union, turns to prostitution to survive, and ends up as a sex slave in Sweden.

Not for Sale: The Documentary (2007)
A documentary that “covers what modern-day abolitionists are doing to fight the rampant terrors of human trafficking in the US and abroad.” From the book of the same name.

The Price of Sugar (2007)
In the Dominican Republic, thousands of Haitians are under armed guard on plantations harvesting sugarcane, most of which ends up in the U.S.

Sex Slaves (2005)
“An undercover journey deep into the world of sex trafficking, following one man determined to rescue his wife — kidnapped and sold into the global sex trade.”

Slumdog Millionaire (2008 )
A new feature film focused on the story of a boy with a chance to win big.

Trade (2007)
A feature film about a 13-year-old girl kidnapped by sex traffickers, and the brother and cop who struggle to find and free her.

Very Young Girls (2007)
A documentary “that chronicles the journey of young women through the underground world of sexual exploitation in New York City.”

(Note: Many of these films contain intense and graphic scenes, so be sure to preview them and ensure that they’re age-appropriate for your audience.)

Human trafficking is happening around the world, including here in the U.S., and if we pay attention and take positive action, we have the power to stop it. In addition to watching and sharing films like those above, you can find out more from sites like these:

Anti-Slavery International
Provides information and action opportunities on modern slavery and forced labor issues. Digital Library
An online library of information, photos and film sources regarding issues of child labor, slavery, sex trade, child marriage and more.

Free the Slaves
A treasure trove of information and resources on modern slavery.

Get reports, news and information about human trafficking from all over the world.

(And, for those of you in the Portland, Oregon area, the City Club of Portland Agora Committee is hosting a series of talks about Human Trafficking. The first one is Thursday, January 22 at 6:00 pm at Kell’s Irish Pub, 112 SW 2nd Ave. Find out more.)

As Gandhi said, “No one is free while others are oppressed.” On this day of hope, let’s work together to create a world where all are free from oppression, exploitation, suffering and violence. YES WE CAN create a compassionate, sustainable, just world!

~ Marsha


MOGO Movie Vault: Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes

“We’re like in this box. In order to be in that box you have to be strong. You have to be tough. You have to have a lot of girls. You gotta have money. You gotta be a player or a pimp. You know, you gotta be in control. You have to dominate other men, other people.”
~ Byron Hurt, filmmaker

Look at hip-hop videos, listen to the lyrics, and you notice a lot of similarities: guns, violence, women, sex, and money. Filmmaker Byron Hurt is a huge hip-hop fan, but he began to question the representations of manhood and masculinity, the portrayal of women and the prevalence of violence in hip-hop music and videos. Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes is a record of his journey.

In a society full of hypermasculine violence and posturing in music, movies, video games, and sports and military culture, this film serves as an excellent tool for exploring issues surrounding what it means to be a man (especially a man of color) in America, through the lens of hip-hop.

In his exploration of hip-hop music and culture, Hurt raises questions about several issues, from perceptions of masculinity, to the prevalence of sexism, misogyny and the objectification of women, to the existence of homophobia and homoeroticism in lyrics and images. He also explores the roots of hip-hop and the exploitation and domination of hip-hop by the major music industry, which is primarily controlled by white men.

I learned a lot from this film that I hadn’t thought about before. For example, Hurt points out that guns in the videos are an outlet for the rage that many young men of color feel, that there is a lineage of black men wanting to deny their own frailty, and that guns, violence and posturing are a way for young men to assert themselves and to assert the power that rich white guys manifest in other ways.

One of the interviewees in the film said that “…the only way in which men are allowed to make a connection in the popular culture with women is through sexuality….”  Hurt also pointed out that between 60-70% of hip-hop listeners are young white men, and that a lot of the emphasis on violence and sexism comes from those at the top of the music industry, most of whom are white men.

Hip-Hop was originally shown on PBS, and the companion website includes clips from the documentary, suggested resources, background information about the film and the issues explored, and educational materials, such as a discussion guide.

This is a great video to share with friends, older students, people working with older teens (especially young men), and others interested in issues surrounding masculinity, sexism, violence and media.  (Be aware that the film and website include explicit language and images.)

~ Marsha

What Message Are You Modeling?

Hello, Everyone, and Happy New Year!

Recently my boss told me about the video below, which was created by Child Friendly Australia. The video does a terrific job of reflecting back to us just how powerfully we model messages to our kids.

(Note: If the above doesn’t play, go here to see the video.)

The same is true for everyone. As Gandhi said, “My life is my message,” and we send all manner of messages in the every day choices and actions we take. Are we kind and patient with the check out clerk, even though he’s taking forever to ring up our purchases? How do we react to the woman who cuts in front of us in line? How do we behave when our friend falsely accuses us? What message are we sending when we choose to stop at a fast food restaurant? How do we respond to the person, planet or animal in need? What do our choices say about our message, our values?

This year, one of my intentions is to work to make my life more closely reflect a message of compassion, peace, kindness, justice and other MOGO qualities.

What messages are you modeling?

~ Marsha

Video to Inspire: “If Everyone Cared”

We posted on our blog recently about inspiring short videos you can share with others. Add this one to the list:

“If Everyone Cared,” a music video by Nickelback, intercuts video of the band playing, with images and video featuring past social justice leaders: Bob Geldorf, who started up LiveAid; Betty Williams, who led a march in protest of the deaths of three Irish children and later won a Nobel Peace Prize; Peter Benenson, who’s actions lead to the formation of Amnesty International; and, Nelson Mandela, who lead South Africa to its first democratic election.

The video ends with Margaret Mead’s famous quote: “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

Once I heard the song and saw the video, I had to play it repeatedly throughout the day, and then it took me a week before another song could replace this one in my head.

Use videos like these to spark others to positive action, and to renew your own commitment to helping create a humane world.

~ Marsha

Greensumption: A Reminder That We Can’t Buy Our Way to a Humane World

With green being the new black and ethical consumption one of the hottest trends, people are putting their dollars to work supporting green businesses, products and services. While buying ethically is an excellent and important step on the way to a humane world, consumption is still consumption. In order for that compassionate, sustainable, just world, with resources enough for everyone (including the animals) to flourish, we’re going to have to significantly reduce our consumption — especially we Westerners, who gobble up the planet’s resources at an alarming and unsustainable rate.

Recently I came across a little video from the International Forum on Globalization. The video (just under 5 minutes) uses satire to remind viewers that we can’t buy our way to a sustainable world. Greensumption celebrates shopping against climate change, lauding such actions as buying a Prius for every member of the family or greening your 10,000 square foot second home.

Share this with your friends and family who’ve been limiting their MOGO (Most Good) choices to jumping on the ethical consumerism bandwagon.

~ Marsha

Image courtesy of ralphbijker.

World Got You Down? Get Reinspired With These Videos

If we focus on the realities of the world — the poverty, injustice, destruction, suffering, cruelty — it’s easy to want to dive into bed, throw the covers over our heads and hide, or to give a big sigh, give up on trying to make a difference and shrink our circle of concern to our most immediate needs and relationships. Because mainstream media often doesn’t cover the positive changes occurring, it’s easy to forget that there ARE positive changes occurring — a lot of them. It’s also easy to forget how much power we as individuals have in the choices that we make every day.

But people have begun to notice something: a shift is happening. More people and organizations are doing more…all over the world. In my work I’ve come across many resources, including these short videos, which have inspired me to hold onto my hope and continue my walk down a more compassionate, sustainable path.

The next time you’re ready to hide or give up, take a few minutes to let videos like these reinspire you:

The Shift — “We are in the middle of the biggest social transformation in human history.”
(About 6 minutes long)

A favorite quote from the short film:

“Making the world a better place is not only your responsibility, it is your joy, it is your blessing, it’s your gift. It is your opportunity to make your life mean something. So take it.”

Blessed Unrest — “How the largest movement in the world came into being and why no one saw it coming.” (About 6 minutes long)

A clip from Paul Hawken’s speech at the 2006 Bioneers, based on his book, Blessed Unrest.

The Power of One — “The power of one is the power to do something. Anything.”
(About 1 minute long)

A brief, powerful clip from the Earth Communications Office. I use this clip for some of my humane education presentations. It always makes me tear up — and feel very inspired.

What reinspires you?

~ Marsha

MOGO Movie Vault: Call + Response

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” ~ Dr. Cornel West, scholar/philosopher

27 million. That’s the estimate for how many slaves there are in the world today. That’s more than at any other time in history. Many of those slaves are children. Many of those slaves are used for sex, or for war. People have been working to abolish slavery almost since slavery began, but it still persists, and is growing. Organizations such as Free the Slaves and Not For Sale have been working hard to bring awareness to this issue and to abolish slavery around the world. Call + Response is a new tactic in the campaign to rid the world of human slavery, a “rockumentary” in which activists, educators, celebrities and musicians each take a part in sharing the story of slavery in the 21st century. One thing that’s unique about this documentary is that 100% of the profits will be used to fund projects to help end slavery.

The website offers a variety of ways to get involved, from contacting companies to let them know you want slavefree products, to submitting ideas for ending slavery, to connecting with other abolitionists in your area.

The film opened October 10 and is playing in selected theaters around the country. Here in Portland, the film is playing at the Living Room Theater, 341 SW 10th Avenue, through October 16.

~ Marsha