August 18, 2010

Fighting Sex Exploitation

Earlier this summer, I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in a summer program through Justifi, an organization dedicated to prevent the growing human sex trade among children in Northern Thailand. Justifi partners with other organizations such as The Sold Project to prevent, rescue and provide services to children affected by one of the worst crimes committed against humanity. 

I did a lot of research to prepare for the summer program. Victor Malarek's "The Natasha's: Inside the New Global Sex Trade" was by far the most insightful text I read. In his book, he details the global consequences of the human trafficking in a political, social and psychological context. Here are just a few takeaways from his book:
  • After drugs and weapons, the sex trade is the third most lucrative sector globally, estimated to generate over $12 billion annually
  • Sex trafficking victims can be forced to serve 10 to 30 men in a single night
  • Once rescued, trafficking victims are often processed as illegal immigrants, making legal action a virtually impossible choice
  • The legalization of prostitution in Germany and the Netherlands have caused a surge in foreign sex tourism that ultimately encourages sex trafficking
  • UN police and soldiers are often popular brothel customers 
  • Sex trafficking is a driving force in the global spread of AIDS
Unfortunately, due to violent civil unrest in Thailand, the trip was canceled just a week before we were scheduled to leave. While I was disappointed that I could not participate in the Justifi summer program, I feel compelled to stay connected to its cause. In an effort to keep this issue topical, I wanted to share a teen-run organization I came across called Minga, translated in Quechuan to mean "the coming together of a community for the betterment of all." Founder Katie Simon was motivated to start the organization after hearing a speech about childhood sex trafficking. The mission of her organization is truly inspiring. Through a peer-to-peer effort, Minga not only raises money for victims, but has set out to empower, educate, and change how the world perceives sex trafficking. 

Between classes, my field placement at the Department of Mental Health at UCLA Harbor (a post to come on this later), and studying, I have no idea how much time I will be able to devote to this cause. What I do know is that I must make the effort to help, even if it's donating small amounts of time and or money to the organizations listed in the post. 

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