Something To Chew On This Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to spend with your friends and family, listen to Uncle John’s childhood stories, eagerly eat roast turkey with cranberry sauce and agree to yet another slice of pumpkin pie without feeling bad about yourself. What’s not to love?
More interestingly perhaps, Thanksgiving is also the time to give thanks and be grateful for what you have. One usually thinks of health, a united family, great friends, a loving partner, a warm shelter, an interesting job or the turkey on the table. But who thinks about freedom?
When is the last Thanksgiving dinner you heard someone giving thanks for being free — master of their own destiny? We do not think of being grateful for being free because we just take it for granted. We should not. Because as shocking as it is, slavery still exists today in the form of human trafficking.
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human being for the purpose of exploitation. In the world, more than 2.5 million people are victims of human trafficking at any given time and deprived from their most basic human rights.
Young women and girls are forced into prostitution and abject sexual exploitation. Men and women are forced to dangerous and tiring work into agriculture, factories or garbage dumps. Children are exploited to exhaustion as domestic workers and vulnerable to abuse.
Most of the victims are women and children but anyone could be a victim. Why? Human trafficking is a lucrative business. The United Nations considers its market value at about 32 billion dollars. So there is a lot at stake. And, as we know, the end justifies the means. So to attract and retain their victims, traffickers use force, threats, abduction, fraud, deception and abuse of power. Most victims are coerced, a lot are lured with job offers just too good to be true. They are promised a dream life and get directly to hell instead as they are exploited day after day.
So this year, at lunch, be thankful for what you have and the fact that you are free. And think of all of those who are not. If you want to help, you can get in touch with the Institute for Trafficked, Exploited, and Missing Persons, and organization that works to prevent, interdict, rescue, recover, and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking.
They provide victims with safe houses when necessary, medical and psychological aid, social and legal assistance, as well as education, because education is key for vulnerable children to get out of poverty, know their rights and become less of a target for human traffickers.
Today, while your celebrate the holiday, remember to keep those less fortunate in mind, and to do what you can to help these victims to have something to be thankful for as well.
By Clara San Filippo, Operations Director, ITEMP
ITEMP is a borderless anti-human trafficking program of The GOD’S CHILD Project/Nuestros Ahijados. ITEMP works to prevent, interdict, rescue, recover, and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking.