December 23, 2014
Unlike their peers consumed by Christmas festivities and the worries of what to expect from Santa on Christmas day, these Teenagers from High School are out for a purpose and their mission is to end the scourge of slavery and human trafficking.
Led by their President Gisele Betances and the Vice President Margaux Army, They are students and members of the Gettysburg Area High School Amnesty International, who despite being teenagers, have the courage to take up an issue, which has gained more attention in the 21st century more than any time in history.
Accompanied by four other members of the group: Ricky Czar, Seth Zimmann, Erin Heeschen and Nick Wallace, Betances defied the rain and cold winter as she gathered her group in front of Lark gifts shop, a kind gesture by the owner of the reputable store, who allowed the group to hold a peaceful rally in front of her store, when she realized the group could not protest at the city center.
Holding flyers with the heading “STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING”, the six activists approached pedestrians and motorists, to bring attention to the problems of human trafficking, a new form of Modern Day Slavery. Armed with a makeshift cage to let their message out, each of the six members took turns in the cage, a move designed to signify imprisonment and the horrible experience faced by victims of human trafficking.
The estimate is that there are about 30 million slaves in the world today that is, people held against their will to be used not only in forced labor but also for sex and the profitable business of organ trafficking. Current technology and the internet revolution have made it possible for criminals and traffickers to take advantage of the medium as a tool for their illegal dealings in human, for organized crime, and the exchange of assets and commerce.
Traffickers are known to target the most vulnerable and economically depressed part of the world in their illegal trade. In the 1970s, human trafficking flourished in South East Asia in places like: Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines. Today, human trafficking has moved to Africa targeting places such as: Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Ethiopia and the like. Vulnerable and destitute girls including children from these regions are transported to the West with the promise of helping them find employment. On arrival, their passports are seized before being handed over and used in forced labor or as sex slaves.
Migrant workers in Lebanon, who are victims of human trafficking, are known to not only endure physical abuse, they also experience gruesome sexual abuse by their host or employer. On arrival at the port of entry to their destination, immigration in Beirut hand over their passports to the employer. The migrant worker is never allowed to go out alone without company and those who try to go back to their home country, are not allowed to do so because the employer or host, would not release their passports.
Victims get paid less than the worth of the entire service if paid at all, and unfortunately, the Lebanese Government protect the employer and not one enslaved. Those that are not used in forced labor get used as sex slaves. For example, it is possible for a trafficker in New York to request via the Internet, for vulnerable girls to be sent to NY from Cambodia or Vietnam. On arrival, such girls including children are used to service brothel, strip clubs, massage parlors, and lap dance bars.
The trafficker gets money in return by giving the victim to pedophiles who exploit such people mostly children for sex and as long as the money continues to flow, the trafficker cares less about any moral or sense of social responsibility. It is estimated that about 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked each year in the U.S. the victims end up as sex slaves or employed in cheap labor, where they are paid less than the worth of the service given.
It is no doubt that Gisele Betances along with other members of Gettysburg Area High School’ Amnesty International, are champions of our times. Perhaps, with their help and the attention they are bringing to the cause, the society will once again focus attention on ending the scourge of human trafficking.
Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment,’ ‘Criminal Law-Homicide’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at http://www.amazon.com/author/adeyemioshunrinade. Follow @san0670