Saturday, February 24, 2007

Labor of love.

Recently, I've been trying to get involved with the Emancipation Network. I found out about this nonprofit when I was scouting for interational products to include in our May travel issue. Operating under T.E.N. Charities, this group is fighting to raise money for programs that shelter, care for, and protect victims of human trafficking. Everything sold at their shop is made by survivors--from bags, to beautiful notebooks etc. Trafficking overview:

"Slavery was outlawed in the US in 1864, and it is not legal anywhere in the world, yet there are more slaves in the world today than at any time in human history. 27 million people around the world are estimated to be victims of slavery, for forced prostitution, labor, domestic work, and other forms of exploitation, with approximately 50% of victims being under the age of 18.

UNICEF estimates that one million children will be forced into prostitution this year.

IN South Asia, the cost of a human life is about $1000. That’s at the brothel level – parents often receive as little as $150 for their child’s life. For traffickers, the flesh trade is a lucrative business, generating over 7 billion dollars a year. Trafficking is often controlled by organized crime cartels.

Victims of trafficking are subject to gross human rights violations including rape, torture, beatings, starvation, dehumanization, and threats of murdering family members. In the case of traffficking for sexual exploitation, girls often have their virginity sold first, followed by multiple gang rape to break down their resistance. Since the bodies of young girls are not ready for sexual intercourse, this often results in abrasions, making the girls susceptible to HIV and other diseases."

The Emancipation Network also works to educate people on various levels and the shop they've set up on their website is a great alternative way to reach out to a broader audience. Unfortunately, many people are only inspired to help when there is an incentive for the effort. And instead of responding critically to this reality, E.N. is working it into their campaign.

Suede purses made by Nepali girls rescued from slavery in Indian circuses. ($72)

Survivors of Maiti Nepal designed this colorful backpack from traditional Dhaka fabric. ($12)

This bag is made from recycled rice bags. Made by Cambodian girls and women rescued from slavery and exploitation. ($33.60)

shop here or learn more

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