National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month 2013
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month, the "crime that knows no borders," according to President Barack Obama. Take a look at our featured individuals to see what women are doing on a national and global scale to prevent modern day slavery, a human rights problem that affects people of all ages from every part of the world.
Anuradha Koirala is the founder and director of the non-profit organization Maiti Nepal, dedicated to aiding victims of sex trafficking. Maiti Nepal runs a rehabilitation center in a home in Kathmandu. The organization is aptly named -- “Maiti” means “mother’s home” in Nepali. The home serves as a safe haven for women coming from the brothels of India. The program provides services to these women until they can return to their homes or are ready to live on their own. The organization coordinates with police on the India-Nepal border to reunite these women with their families and rescue more women from brothels with Indian authorities’ help. In 2010, Kiorala won the CNN Hero award and received $100,000 for her organization. The United States government awarded Maiti Nepal a two year $500,000 grant in April 2010.
At fourteen years old, Holly Smith fell victim to a sex trafficking ring. Due to the lack of anti-trafficking laws at the time, Smith’s captor served only one year in jail. Smith now advocates against human trafficking by telling her story to raise awareness about domestic human trafficking. In September 2011, Smith testified to Congress in support of the Trafficked Victims Protection Act. Smith works to educate law enforcement on human trafficking and serves as a consultant to the AMBER Alert system in the United States. Smith is currently writing a memoir about her experience.
After learning about two men charged with child sex trafficking in her town of Wichita, Kansas, Jennifer White began working with the Wichita Children’s Home and started the grassroots movement ICT S.O.S. The organization, founded in 2011, coordinates with state legislators to make changes to human trafficking laws and provides emergency shelter services and long-term housing and rehabilitation. Where other efforts have failed, volunteers for ICT SOS have found success in writing letters to child pornography websites demanding they remove the pictures. ICT SOS is working to educate the public about human trafficking and White encourages others to be the catalyst for change in their community.
At the age of 13, Sina Vann was sold into sex slavery by her friend. After two years of captivity, Vann was rescued during an anti-slavery raid organized by activist Somaly Mam. Vann now works with the Somaly Mam Foundation to free other sex slaves through the “Voices for Change” program and in 2009 she was awarded the Frederick Douglas Award from international anti-slavery organization Free the Slaves for her activism and advocacy efforts. Vann is continuing her education and is seen as one of the foremost activists in Cambodia advocating against sex slavery.
In 2010, actress Demi Moore and actor Ashton Kutcher founded DNA, the Demi and Ashton Foundation. DNA seeks to end sexual exploitation of children in all forms, through either sex trafficking or child pornography. The “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” campaign brought mainstream awareness to the issue of sex slavery. The campaign received over 2 million participants. DNA also coordinated with the Department of Homeland Security to create an educational video about identifying trafficking victims and getting help. This video is shown in 46 airports nationwide and receives 20 million viewers per month. The DNA Foundation is working to support stronger legislature, including the Domestic Minor Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act and also has worked with the California’s Peace Officer Standards and Training team to create a law enforcement training video on issues surrounding human trafficking.