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What $23.07 can do.

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So our second pop-up went down yesterday. As expected, it was a success. We didn’t end human trafficking yesterday, we didn’t serve 10,000 people & we didn’t make the front page of the paper. But for the women & girls who came out, we did a small part to help them get to where they want to be.

Here’s the breakdown:

Last pop-up, we were open for a week. After reflection, we believed that we could be more conservative with donor money while still getting our work done in a quality manner. We’ve decided to proceed one day per month (the 1st Saturday) from 9am-9pm. We will be offering the same services, but by concentrating our efforts we can offer a better experience for our clients while saving money.

Last time we did the pop-up, our allocation per client was $115.38 to help them.

This time, we did much, much better from a fiscal perspective.

We had 13 clients in, and allocated $300.00 for the day. This means that we were able to get an industry girl (their terminology, not ours) on a new economic path with a resume, cover letter, 2 professional outfits, hair & makeup tips, and mock-interviews for $23.07.

You read that right, $23.07

Now here’s where you come in. Because we honestly need your help. Not hashtag activism, or “likes” but your help. Our model is valid, its repeatable & it’s fiscally responsible. We want to grow it.

 In the very near future we are looking for the following:

 6-8 laptops (mix of PC & MAC) this way we can set up a station for our clients to apply for jobs right then & there. Currently, our technology is occupied by our volunteers writing resumes & cover letters. It’s all about empowerment, help us get tech to help serve our clients.

Socially responsible makeup gift bags: we have rules that we abide by in purchasing, one of which is we can not use products made by child or forced labor. This makes buying makeup difficult. We need someone to act as a liaison with an ethical makeup company to help us get makeup & samples for the women to take as gifts.

 Professional & seasonal clothing: Our clients require various sizes of professional clothes. I’m not talking “cleaning out grandmas closet” I’m talking the items that they would wear on job interviews.

 Data: Cell companies… we need data pucks & data. Anybody work in a cell store that can help us out?

Financial Sponsorship: We can run a pop-up for $300.00, we could do it even better for $500.00. How many churches, synagogues, social groups, yoga studios etc. are looking for charities. Sponsor a month with us!

 Food: Our clients can EAT. And they really, really love pizza & wings. Are there any pizza places out there who want to sponsor our work?

So that’s it for right now. I’m so amazed, humbled & honored to have a team of volunteers who give of themselves to help others. I am amazed at the demand from our clients to get on a new path.

The freedom center is coming to fruition. Right now it’s once a month in a broke-down hotel. Someday soon, a more permanent location.

- JB

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“Then why do you bother”

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Then why do you bother?

It’s 8am here at The Cleveland Freedom Center pop-up. It feels like I just left a few hours ago. We’re three days in & I’m pretty tired already. The hours are long, but the benefits are awesome. We’ve had three amazing women stop in already, all of them were extremely thankful for the opportunity to generate a resume, cover letter, apply for jobs & get professional clothes. One women broke down in tears & said that she had been praying for something like this, for an opportunity to leave “the life”.

We’ve had some amazing volunteers stop by. Some are survivors themselves, some are former students of mine, some are just amazing people who have decided to give a bit of themselves to others. Regardless of their motives, they are making & will continue to make a difference.

I’m not writing this blog entry to be all “hey look at what great things we’re doing”. I’m actually writing it because a gentleman really just put it in perspective for me (ok, I’m lying, he really pissed me off). Like I said, it’s 8am as I’m writing this. I’m alone for the next few hours until another volunteer comes in. A guy popped his head in & asked “what do you do in here”? I answered by saying “we help young women who are at risk for, or who have been trafficked for sex, find jobs to get on a better path”. He responded with “that’s really great, how much do you get paid for doing this”? I answered, with the only response I have, “nothing”. He scoffed “then why do you do it” & left.

Edmund Burke said “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. I’m going to substitute the word “people” for “men”, because, you know… feminist & all… but he is completely right. All we have to do to allow the world to fall apart is to go all Nero on it & just sing & dance while the world burns.

The question here isn’t what I’m going to do. I’ve got a 14 hour day ahead of me here at the pop-up. The question isn’t what our volunteers are going to do, they have numerous shifts throughout the week to help change peoples lives.

The question is, what are you going to do to make the world a better place?

 

- JB

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Why I stopped saying “real men don’t buy girls”.

 

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A couple of years ago, Ashton Kuchter embarked on a landmark experiment to raise awareness about sex trafficking. He & his celeb friends took some great pics & held up signs that said “real men don’t buy girls”. At the time, I thought it was a great awareness raising campaign.

… and then I started studying sociolinguistics…

Language frames the way we interpret the world. We don’t even realize it as it’s happening, but our words and the words that are used around us change our feelings, our actions and ultimately the way we behave towards others.

So why don’t I say “real men don’t buy girls” anymore?

Let’s break this down NFL play-by-play style (one of my favorite things to do)

On the surface, the phrase is well meaning. I mean come on; nobody wants girls to be sold right? But think about what the phrase is really saying. It’s not saying that women aren’t property, or commodities; it’s saying that real men don’t buy them.

As a feminist, I’ve got a bit of a problem with this. It removes what’s called “agency” from women. The phrase removes power from women & in turn puts the choice on men to decide to buy or not to buy them. The phrase “real men don’t buy girls” isn’t saying that women aren’t property; it’s saying that they are & that “real men” have a choice if they are going to buy them or not.

So then how do we use words to shape how we really feel, or what we really mean?

It’s simple: “People aren’t property”

There’s no leading language, no gender bias, & no hidden messages.

So, here’s hoping you join me: “Real men don’t buy girls” is a male dominated phrase putting all the power in the hands of men to decide or not to decide to buy girls who are still labeled as property. Or start using the phrase “People aren’t property”

For me, I’m using “people aren’t property” from now on.

Peace

- JB

 

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I don’t care that you’re angry!

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Let’s hash this out right now. I don’t care that human rights violations make you angry. I don’t care that human trafficking pisses you off or that you are fuming about missing kids. I’m not horribly concerned that you are ticked off about child soldiers or that items made by child labor really rile you up. I don’t care about your emotions about human rights violations, I understand them, but in the long run, they accomplish very little. I am however deeply and fundamentally concerned with your actions regarding human rights violations.

I don’t care about you being angry because being angry is easy; it is one small step above being completely apathetic and doing or feeling absolutely nothing. Being infuriated about something is incredibly low commitment. An example: “I’m so angry that The Walking Dead is not airing right now”… see what I mean? It literally took me 2 seconds to write that line (and I truly am angry about it). Will it in any way impact The Walking Dead airing earlier? Not in the least. Does anyone care that I’m angry that The Walking Dead isn’t on right now? Not likely. Sure, it might garner a “like” or two on Facebook, someone might even comment on the posting. But in the long run, no Walking Dead until October.

At this point you might be getting angry at me & think “that so & so… where does he get off not caring about me caring about something”…

Getting angry about stuff isn’t the end of the journey; it’s the beginning.

I had coffee with a friend a bit ago. She told me that that her husband was in the truck with his boss when the boss suggested they go to a strip club. The husband told the boss “do you know not all strippers are performing voluntarily?” When my friend told me this I was beaming with pride. Dude took it on himself to stand up to his boss for women’s rights (FYI, they didn’t go)!

The same friend e-mailed me & asked about child labor in the soccer ball industry. I accessed the List of Goods & shot her some good ones to buy  (learn about fair trade soccer balls here).

Notice that these were actions, not just emotions. Actions = results.

I’m sure some of my audience will say that being angry about stuff is a first step & I am in complete agreement. However, simply being riled up about something can’t be the only step.

Peace

- JB

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Quit the diamond

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If you love someone, give them a rock (not a diamond)

The diamond… a small piece of superheated carbon compressed under  millions of tons of pressure (or the hands & super awesome laser-vision of superman). The diamond is ubiquitous with love & kissing and all that awful stuff…

I can only imagine how many people exchanged diamonds this Valentines day to say, “I love you”. There was “boys 2 men” playing in the background, a great restaurant, idle chit-chit chat and then the box was produced, opened & tears. Moments later hugging, kissing and instant Facebook updates… so many Instagram pics of the hand wearing the ring… In our culture, the diamond helps to co-construct our meaning of love.

I say screw that. Diamonds don’t mean love; they mean suffering. If you love someone, give them a piece of polished gravel, or sand, or anything else except a diamond ring.

 If you are going to go down the diamond path, know your stuff or you may be hurting people!

Let’s break this down:

The majority of diamonds come from mines in sub-Saharan Africa and/or countries that have numerous allegations involving intense human rights violations. Miners are often paid next-to-nothing, or are involved in a form of debt-bondage, forced labor or other form of human trafficking offenses. These miners are often kept in line and under control by child soldiers and/or others who are forced to be in the military. These exploited individuals are by legal definition, human trafficking victims. That’s right, many diamonds on the market come from people who are victimized. They are exploited because you’re willing to buy/wear a rock to prove your love. It isn’t worth it. Watch the movie Blood Diamond to outline it. Although it isn’t a documentary, it is based on events that happen quite often & does help to drive the point home.

So how do you ethically prove your love?

  1. Never, ever, ever buy a new diamond: Sure, the person at Jerrods assures you that there isn’t blood on that diamond, but how does he know? DeBeers diamond cartel & Anglo American Mining controls the majority of mines & new-production rocks on the planet. Blood diamonds are mixed in with legally harvested stones. You don’t know! Don’t do it!
  2. If you’re not going to listen to #1, get a certified Conflict Free Diamond: There are mines in the U.S., Canada, and a few other countries with more stringent labor laws.  These diamonds are sold as Certified Conflict Free & come with a certificate clearly outlining the origin, and chain of custody of the stone. Can certificates be faked? Sure, but it’s a start in the right direction.
  3. Pawn Shops & Grandma/Moms old rings: There is no such thing as a used diamond. Go to a pawn shop & purchase a pre-owned. By using the existing supply you are cutting down on the financial incentive to exploit others in the present & future. Or, ask Grandma or Mom for the old rocks they’re not using. What significant other wouldn’t want a family stone? They’re going to be part of the family!
  4. Forget diamonds & precious stones all together: Be an individual, be a trendsetter; get something mounted on a ring that means something. Yes, you can have a piece of gravel cut & polished to a mirror finish. Get a stone from that park that you first met in, the parking lot of your first kiss; something meaningful.

 

We cannot let our love harm others. Please quit the diamond.

 

Remember, your dollar is your voice, spend wisely.

 

- JB

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Sex Trafficking & The Superbowl

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 10.10.18 AMTo begin this post let us hash some things out. I am a lifelong football fan, I played it and I would love to dedicate more of my life to hanging out in dive bars watching random games, eating hot wings, drinking copious amounts of beer & yelling at the television screens when players botch a play. Now that we have that out, I am also a freedom advocate and dedicate every breath in my body to working towards freedom & ending human trafficking. So hopefully that will stave off any sort of negative reactions of me being a football hater, or a promoter of trafficking/commercial sex because what I am about to say may be slightly counter to what many others are saying.

Over the next few days on social media, all sorts of well-meaning advocates are going to be throwing out numbers regarding sex trafficking & the Super Bowl. Some will suggest that between 10,000 and 100,000 trafficked victims will be brought in to service clients. Please please please do not share these numbers because they are counterproductive to the entire anti-trafficking movement. The simple fact of the matter is no-one has any reliable numbers suggesting the amount of sex trafficking that happens at the Super Bowl and to suggest a number like 100,000 is ridiculous if we just think about it for a moment.

100,000… there is research suggesting that the average pimp/trafficker may have a stable (their terminology) of 4 women under their control. This makes sense because to move a group of people or keep track of them, well.. you can fit that many in a SUV or a van. Now lets just really think about this for a moment.

If a pimp/trafficker has 4 people under their control that means that to meet that 100,000 number 25,000 pimp/traffickers have to be descending on the area. Simply put, this isn’t the case. There are not enough brothels, hotel/motel rooms or even parking for that. That would require about 75,000 hotel rooms & in a given area… well just think about it.

Even the low end, 10,000 is inaccurate as it means that 2500 pimp/traffickers could be coming into town. There is not enough infrastructure to support that level of commercial sex. Commercial sex is a demand-driven institution, if there isn’t a huge increase in demand it doesn’t make economic sense for traffickers to move their stable. The Super Bowl does increase demand, but there is no research supporting how much (yet).

So here’s the deal. Sex Trafficking Does Happen At The Superbowl but no-one knows how many people are involved.

While you may want to share numbers that scream “look at me, look at me” like the 10,000-100,000 figure that is floating around; it is counterproductive. Instead of trying to gain attention with numbers (which really don’t exist yet as researchers haven’t looked into it) try to reduce demand for commercial sex services.

No demand = no supply.

Why don’t you share that “Football fans are real men & real men don’t buy sex”, or just the classic “Real men don’t buy girls“.

The “real men don’t buy girls” phrase goes so much further to changing cultural views and oppressive institutions then does sharing baseless numbers.

While you might think that huge numbers are shocking and will gain attention, they don’t. Baseless numbers are counterproductive & could easily lead the general population to believe that the freedom movement & human trafficking in general is one big lie (think the beginning of the climate change debate).  Sex trafficking is a travesty & it should make no difference that maybe 100 could be trafficked into an area rather than 100,000. Every person is vital & should be free. By thinking that 100,000 is more important than 1, you’re missing the importance and value of the human experience.

Remember the anti-trafficking movement is a marathon, not a sprint. Freedom advocates need to frame the work for long-term success not short-term gains.

So there it is,

Let me know your thoughts.

- JB

& p.s. I can’t talk about it on a public forum but you’re going to have to trust me for a while on these Super Bowl numbers.

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She wanted out.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.53.11 AMI had just presented in a secured place (which will remain nameless because of safety & confidentiality). A young girl came up to me and we spoke in depth about her gang involvement (gang name omitted because of my own fear of retaliation). She had been initially recruited into this gang because her father and uncle were high ranking members in it. She was beaten in, tattooed, sexually trafficked & now was a full-fledged member. With tears in her eyes she told me that she had done some really bad things, and she wanted out.

I listened intently, calling on every ounce of my strength not to break down & cry with her. Her life was effed up & the place she was in didn’t help. I listened, and the only words I could muster was that “yesterday doesn’t matter, only tomorrow does”. She told me that she  was getting out of this facility soon and she feared getting killed if she tried to leave the gang.

Those were the last words I had with her. I don’t know what happened to her, if she left, if she lived. I just don’t know. I dropped off some books for her the next day, I hope she got them.

Street gangs are one of the great forgotten forms of slavery today.

You may have just read that & thought “What??? Those punks!!!”    Hang on with me for a few minutes & let me lay it out.

The definition of human trafficking is “when one is forced to work through force, fraud, or coercion for no money beyond subsistence”. You remember Kony2012 right? Everybody was all up in arms about child soldiers for that weekend on Facebook (yeah, I’m bitter) and then it went away. Everyone recognized that a small African child with an AK-47 was forced by this bad man to serve in an army & we really need to do something about it.

So, what’s the difference between a small African child in Sub-Sarahan Africa being forced to fight, and a small American child being forced to do the same thing?

Why do you feel bad for one, and want to throw the other in juvie?

A child gang member, if they are not allowed to leave is being trafficked. A kid who fears reprisal against their family, or friends or themselves is exactly the same as that kid holding the Ak in the Kony campaign. Kony forced kids into his army, gangs do the same. Kony made kids kill, gangs do the same. Kony would kill a kid if they tried to escape, so do gangs.

The anti-trafficking advocacy world has been growing in leaps and bounds in reframing the sex-worker issue. What used to be seen as a pimp and a happy prostitute is now slowly & begrudgingly being reframed as a trafficker and the victim/survivor. We need to do the same with gangs, and the kid who wants to get out but fears getting killed if they try.

We have to remember, that yesterday doesn’t matter; tomorrow does.

We need to remember the kid who had done some really bad things but want’s out.

 

- JB

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It’s Jan 11. Here is what you should do!

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Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. So that means around the country all sorts of advocacy groups are going to be throwing out pictures meant to stir your emotions and rally support. There will be impassioned speeches & all sorts of rallying cries but at the end of the day, it is just a day…  If we truly want to make a difference we need to institutionalize the issue so that we aren’t just doing things or raising awareness on one day of the year, but on every day of our lives.

BE THE HERO!

Here is a list of things that you should do today to make a difference!

1. Share That January 11th is National Human Trafficking awareness Day on Facebook or other social media.

2. Find out where you can purchase locally grown produce.

3. Buy a Fair Trade Chocolate Bar & chomp on that thing (chocolate is awesome, fair trade is even more awesome)

4. Check out these pants from All American Clothing  You can source their products all the way to the farm that grew the cotton

5. Talk to your son regarding the objectification of women. Teach them that women are people, not objects.

6. Commit to buying at least 1 refurbished piece of electronics this year

7. Try to purchase locally harvested (in the U.S.) or farmed fish

8. Don’t buy commercial sex including prostitution, porn & going to strip clubs

9. Drink a healthy cup of fair trade coffee with a ton of fair trade sugar & some locally produced cream

10. Tell others about some of the simple life changes they can make to build a more free world.

 

p.s. if you want to know why or how any of these things work please read through this blog or shoot me an e-mail jesse @imaginefreedom.org

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Go Refurbished This Cyber Monday

 

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So, it’s the holiday season. That means there’s plenty of panic and freaking out regarding all sorts of electronic gizmos and doodads and whatnots. For decades now people have rushed to big-box retailers, standing in frigid lines awaiting their opportunity to pay hard-earned money for a bunch of plastic, wires, and batteries… well, not always batteries.  We’ve all been exposed to the dreaded “batteries not included” monster. This year, I’m wondering if you might not be into doing things just a little bit different.

 Refurbished electronics help the environment and help humanity.

If I lost you after that refurbished statement, please stay with me. For some reason refurbished electronics get a bad rap. Many people think that they’re buying someone else’s garbage, or that just because items are refurbished they’re somehow inferior; they are not. Generally speaking, factory refurbished items are just as good for a far better price.

So maybe you’re wondering why the heck I’m talking about refurbished electronics when our goal and work has to do with human trafficking?  Well, I hate to break it to you, but there’s human trafficking and economic exploitation in almost every piece of electronics manufactured today. Now sure, you naturally going to nod your head because you heard of stories of Foxconn and other manufacturers that use child labor and questionable labor practices in the assembly of their phones. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Inside of electronics are metals, precious metals. Oftentimes there is gold, silver, platinum, palladium, rhodium, copper, and a variety of other metallic elements.  These metals often originate in countries and areas that are known to use exorbitant amounts of child and forced labor. In short, kids and forced labor victims often mine and process the metals that are inside electronics.  These metals are then fabricated into parts that are then often assembled into working pieces by child and forced labor.  And unfortunately, by purchasing electronics made through exploitative practices we are economically validating those practices, which in turn encourages more exploitation. So how do we stop it?

By refurbishing and reusing the existing supply of electronics, you are discouraging exploitation and creating a demand for more ethically made and ecological products. How does this work you ask? It’s simple supply and demand. People are exploited because there is demand for brand spanking new items that contain all the metals we just talked about; brand-new items require the mining and manufacturing of brand-new metals and parts. So how do we reduce demand?  Refurbished electronics.

The refurbishing process takes factory seconds, items with blemishes, broken screens, bad batteries, or even something that was sent back because it was a display model. These items are then dissembled cleaned polished completely repaired and often given a warranty similar or even exceeding the original warranty that came with the new product. By the time the factory is done refurbishing the product is just as good as the original, but you pay significantly less for it because it is a refurbished product. The refurbishing process reuses the existing supply, which discourages future exploitation in the product lines. It’s not a perfect thing, because quite often the existing supply do have elements of exploitation in them, but  remember you are discouraging future exploitation and generating demand for more ethical alternatives in the long run.

If 20% of the American population begin regularly purchasing refurbished electronics and stating that they do so because they know that there is elements of forced and child labor in their products, manufacturers will change their policy or they will fail economically; both options are acceptable. The number 20% is not some obscure number its based on research that comes out of Malcolm Gladwell’s “tipping point”. The tipping point is where a behavior spreads exponentially (virally) and is then accepted as the norm.

This holiday season make your purchase count, make a statement with your money. Buy refurbished electronics. It’s not fair that the presents we give our loved ones may come at the expense of other people’s loved ones. It’s not fair.

 Refurbished electronics are good for the environment and good for humanity.

 Your dollar is your voice, spend wisely.

 

-       JB

p.s.  If you’re wondering where I buy my refurbished electronics from, I log on daily to a website called woot.com,  not all their items are refurbished but a great deal of them are.

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Et Tu Big Bang Theory?

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sheldon from nerds to pimps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pimps are nothing to be celebrated or appreciated. Pimps buy, sell and abuse women and children for fun and profit. By celebrating them, their names and their culture you are validating their practices which in turn, encourages more to engage in their behaviors.

The pimp is a social phenomena, and I’m not sure that the normal person understands what they’re saying when they use the word. If our culture understood who pimps are, they would never want to be associated with the word.

Lets examine a case story of a pimp. I’ve changed the information because I want to respect the privacy and confidentiality of all those involved. This case took place in Cleveland, Ohio.

There was a runaway girl named Heather, she bought a fake I.D. and worked as a stripper. One day, a guy went into the club and watched her strip. He asked if she was underage and she told the truth and said yes. He told Heather that the two of them could make a lot of money together.

John then began to prostitute the girl, when she wanted to leave he abused her and told her that he would kill her family. He took her out of state and trafficked her in other major cities. Again, she tried to leave but he abused her, raped her, and threatened her family. He sold Heather for quite some time before he was caught. He’s now serving a sentence in prison, Heather never truly recovered.

The word pimp needs to go away. Don’t use it to describe something good or interesting.

Words make a difference.

 

- JB

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Human Trafficking in Suburban Grocery Stores

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A brief rant about the reaction to human trafficking.

 

Last week, I came across a Facebook status that really and truly should not have been shared at all. However, the content created such an emotional uproar that things got out of hand quickly; several thousand shares and like and comments later, people were no longer discussing the topic of the post, but rather attacking Obamacare and gun control laws. What in the world…?!

 

misinformed white woman

 

Now read the post, then hear what I have to say. Make sure you go over everything twice in order for everything to sink in properly. I am not here to criticize this woman’s story, but I will point out how misinformation can spread exponentially, especially in regards to the issue of human trafficking.
Myth #1: Human trafficking is in Cedar Rapids.

Reality: Human trafficking can be found anywhere in the United States and all around the world. It is not just reduced to sex trafficking, either – the food we eat and the electronics we use are more than likely rooted in forced labor in many countries. This means that every time we buy chocolate, coffee, cell phones and laptops, we have made some contribution to human trafficking.

 

Myth #2: You will be kidnapped while grocery shopping.

Reality: While kidnapping does happen out there, human traffickers are more likely to prey upon runaways, illegal immigrants and teens who talk to strangers online.

 

Myth #3: Having a CCW and taking a self-defense gives you the upper hand.

Reality: For those of you who are still uncomfortable with running your errands, here are a few tips that have been derived from the methods that human traffickers may use while trying to pick up a victim in a public place…

1. Someone compliments your eyes. If a stranger (usually a man) tells you that you have pretty eyes, just look at him confidently and say, “I know, thank you,” and keep walking. Why? Human traffickers target women with low self-esteem. If you’re confident about who you are – and you should be! – then the trafficker will quickly move on to find someone else. While this may deter other men from trying to ask you on a real date, you can still rest easy that you won’t be pulling a gun on anyone today (and possibly missing).

2. Someone wants to meet you alone. While common sense should be screaming, “Stay in a group! Say no! Stranger danger!” I just thought that I should add this little ditty in case you really do feel as if you are being followed: Stay in a group, say no, and definitely tell someone about stranger danger. Store clerks and security will definitely help you out if you feel unsafe, so please do not hesitate to ask for help. I used to work a very late shift in a not-so-great neighborhood, and security was always happy to walk me to my car if I felt uncomfortable venturing into the parking lot alone.

 

Myth #4: Life is like a scene from “Taken.”

Reality: NO ONE IS GOING TO INJECT ANYTHING INTO YOU AND THROW YOU INTO AN UNMARKED VAN. People are taught to worry about the creepy guy in the van, but what we should really be concerned about is the nice guy online.

 

Fortunately, the Grand Rapids police finally stepped in and released a statement that this was only a rumor. This may have angered a few people, but that’s probably because they didn’t know the really facts about human trafficking and how to end it! You are so clever for checking in with us, and know you can pass this knowledge on to your panicked friends.

 

clever doctor!

 

Please remember that being informed and making the right decisions as a consumer are the two most important characteristics of being a modern day abolitionist! For more information, please visit our site to read more articles, talk to us and view some very informative videos about what else you can do to help children worldwide.
Thanks!

 

Courtney M.

Board Member

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Words matter!

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The lone activist takes the stage, the anticipation of the crowd is palpable… She/he stands in the spotlight and says “ladies and gentlemen, we are here today because there are people in the world who are buying and selling others… it is slavery. These slaves are often bought for between 50-200 dollars, they’re sometimes forced to preform 40 sex acts a day! We need to rescue these victims… We need to fight human trafficking!!!!” And with that the crowd goes wild. They are going to find out who is behind this human trafficking and they are going to make sure that they are punished to the fullest extent of the law… Hell, forget the law, that crowd wants to hang the guilty parties…

This scenario plays out time & time again across the human rights world. It is well meaning, but not structured or effective. It is in essence, inadvertently propagating (continuing) the situation.

Let’s break this down NFL play by play style:

1. Blaming others: True, there are people who are buying and selling others. Human trafficking is often ranked among the top criminal enterprises worldwide. The reality of blaming others though is a bit more complex that it may seem. Let’s start off with sex trafficking because that’s where most everyone is interested. If you do purchase commercial sex or porn, stop it. Buying validates the practice by giving money to the producers, in essence creating a financial incentive to exploit others. Even if you don’t purchase commercial sex, you may be helping to create demand for it. Examine your purchases, do the clothes/makeup/products you buy sexualize others? I watched a cheezeburger commercial the other day, girl was grinding up on a wet sports car. What does a gyrating girl and a wet sports car have to do with my tasty burger choices? Nothing. It just so happens that guys buy cheezeburgers, and they often like sex. Buy purchasing this companies burgers after you see the addverts validates their practices. If a corporation sees that their advertisements are working, they will keep on putting them out there. In a short time that company is completely sexualizing others. Sexualized others creates demand, demand creates sex trafficking. If you want to end sex trafficking, stop blaming the “others” and start examining our own life practices. Sex trafficking exists because of demand. No demand, no supply, no trafficking.

If you’re talking forced labor in products… see above. Want to end forced labor? Stop buying stuff made by forced labor. No demand, no supply, no forced labor. Make sure the companies you buy from have a statement clearly outlining no forced or child labor, perscribe to the CARB act, & are eco-friendly (reduce, reuse, recycle helps to reuse the existing supply which in turn helps to end forced labor)

2. Calling people slaves: I will smack you in the literary face right now if you ever refer to anyone as a sex slave or a slave. I’m serious, try me! Calling someone a slave reduces them to property, they are no longer human, they are an object. By calling or refering to human beings, your brothers and sisters as a slave you are re-victimizing them. The system is called slavery; refer to the individuals caught up in the system by their clinical definitions. If a person is currently being victimized they are a human trafficking victim, post-rescue they are a human trafficking survivor. If you’re not sure what to say simply refer to them as a victim/survivor; I use that term all the time when I write & lecture.

3. Using baseless numbers: I’m a quantitative researcher. I use numbers, I love them, I thrive on them, I need them. Using numbers in human trafficking helps me to make sense of an otherwise chaotic system. The problem with the numbers associated with human trafficking is…. wait for it…. they’re mostly bunk. Before you even consider saying ANY number associated with human trafficking you have to evaluate their methodology. Don’t just parrot the number back that you heard somewhere. Examine the source, is it a peer-reviewed journal article, advocacy report, state report, or just some dude giving an estimation. Whenever I hear a number ( and note, I am an anti-trafficking activist) I will ask the person if they can prove that number. I have only found one researcher currently producing accurate numbers & that is Dr. Celia Williamson of Toledo University. Read her work.

4. Fighting human trafficking: You’re not fighting, battling, or even combating human trafficking. You’re ending it. To use “battle rhetoric” you reduce a very complex situation to a school yard scuffle. To even suggest a “fight” implies the possibility of losing which frames the argument in a dichotomy (yes or no). Trafficking is not a yes or no proposition, it is a continuum with varying levels of involvement, complicity and blame. So quit with the battle rhetoric, remove the possibility of failure & start looking towards an end. You are ENDING human trafficking.

5. The Law: It is no quiet secret that I have little-to-no respect for the government or elected officials (and yes, someday I do want to run for office because of this). I also have very little respect for laws. Human trafficking is illegal in all sorts, forms and every which way possible. Let’s have a little sociopolitical lesson right here. A few of the current federal statutes for sex trafficking are as follows §18.1519 (sex trafficking of a minor),  §18.371 (conspiring to obstruct a sex trafficking investigation of a minor), §18:2421 (Transportation in interstate commerce with intent to engage in prostitution), §18:2422 (Persuading, inducing, enticing, and coercing an individual to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution), §18:2423 (Travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct), §18:1591 (attempted sex trafficking of children), §18:2251 (attempted exploitation of children/production of child porn), §18:2552 (possession of child porn), §18:2256 (distribution of child porn)…. I’m not going to put up any more valuable blog space to continue. There are plenty of laws out there banning all forms of human trafficking. You could publicly hang, draw and quarter a trafficker and john and it wouldn’t make a dent… to end trafficking, end demand. No demand, no supply, no trafficking.

6. Emotional/impassioned speeches: Every rah rah speech I’ve been to about human trafficking ends the same way. People pour out of the auditorium all riled up and then there’s a general feeling of “what next”. We need more sharks… sharks are cold-blodded, emotionless, methodical … they identify their target and then they go for it. If you want to end human trafficking identify the supporting structures and then figure out how to modify and/or stop those supporting structures. Teach people to end trafficking, don’t emotionally rile them up. Identify the problem and then present the audience with palpable and easy-to-implement solutions. That way, there is no “what next” feeling.

So there you have it. That was a bunch of words to help you frame your work. I hope it makes a difference.

If you like this blog, please share it.

- JB

 

 

 

 

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Change male culture, change the world.

 

Stand out in the crowd & your message will get noticed.

Stand out in the crowd & your message will get noticed.

Boys will be boys, you can’t fight human nature…

I call Bullshi-…

To state that we can’t change males outlooks, actions, & opinions is akin to saying that we are nameless, faceless, stupid-soulless beasts (reminder, I’m a dude). There is currently a war on women. I’ll go so far as to say our male-centric culture supports and almost encourages the demeaning and exploitation of women and it’s so engrained into our culture that we don’t even notice it anymore. Think I’m wrong? Look around. Look at song lyrics, don’t just jam out to the beat, but listen to the lyrics. Check out advertising. Watch commercials. You will find women objectified and demeaned, and over the decades it has becomes acceptable and unnoticed in our society.

So when we talk about sex trafficking, and most of the time is spent warning young girls about being trafficked; I ask why aren’t we doing something more on the guy end?

Let me lay it out like this. Sex trafficking is a demand-driven system. Sex trafficking occurs because men want to buy. That’s it… That’s the only reason sex trafficking occurs. It isn’t anger, or punishment, or rage or hatred or any other emotion. Sex trafficking is a business, run by traffickers, supported by johns and exploiting the victim/survivor.

If there is no demand, there is no supply!

So as advocates, why aren’t we doing more to change the ethos of the dude? (Ethos means character)

If you even think about saying that “boys will be boys” garbage I will jump through this computer screen right now…

Remember the early 80′s? That was when the entire eco-campaign kicked off. When I was a little kid, we used to walk around and when we were done with out slushies we would just throw the cups on the group and keep on walking. Then one day, I saw a commercial about not polluting (no, not the one with the crying Native American. I thought that one was weird). It was an owl and he simply said “give a hoot, don’t pollute”. Every time I turned on my cartoons, there was Woodsie the owl reinforcing that message. It spoke directly to me and Woodsie told me that polluting was bad. Then the coolest super hero in the world came out: Captain Planet . You won’t find any kid of the 80′s that can’t recite the theme song from heart: “Captain planet, he’s our hero. Gonna take pollution down to zero”…

Their messages were simple, clear and repeated all throughout my childhood and the message stuck. I am now completely and totally against pollution and it is so engrained in my thoughts and our overall culture that I would never think about throwing garbage in the environment. Their unified and continuous message changed my outlook & our country.

So here’s the deal.

We as advocates need a unified and continuous message. We need to aim it towards young men and we need to say it, and say it, and say it until it becomes part of the very fabric of an entire generation.

Let’s start right here.

Real men don’t buy girls.

If we repeat this for the next two decades, just as pollution fell, so will sex trafficking.

Don’t believe me?

Go dump a garbage bag full of trash on the sidewalk and see if it doesn’t send you into a cold-sweat panic. Eco-throughts are engrained in you.

We just need to do the same for human rights.

 

Peace

- JB

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Contact v.s. Non-contact (rise of the cam girl)

FBI is warning parents about cameras and children

FBI is warning parents about cameras and children, especially this “Barbie Cam”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have a specific narrative regarding sex trafficking in our minds, and unfortunately that affects the way that we look at, examine and ultimately work to end the crime. That narrative usually looks like the movie Taken, the Liam Neeson thriller where his white, suburban daughter is kidnapped from a Paris flat and sold to a rich sheik.

While situations like that do happen, they are in the far, far minority.

I want to take a moment to address a new, up and coming form of sex trafficking, The Cam Girl.

A cam girl is a young girl who appears (forced or voluntary) on internet cam and performs specific sexual acts that viewers pay to watch. It is a one-time, or subscription service that involves no-contact with the actual purchaser.

Right off the bat you may be thinking “that’s not sex trafficking, that’s pornography”! But by legal definition, anyone under the age of 18 who engages in ANY form of commercial sex is being trafficked for sex regardless of their level of consent. That means the individuals who purchase the viewing rights (Johns) are guilty of both child porn and sex trafficking (if they’re caught).

The cam girl, if she is under the age of 18 is a non-contact sex trafficking victim/survivor. If she is over 18 & forced she is still a non-contact sex trafficking victim/survivor.

The cam girl is someone we rarely think of in the sex trafficking world but one we have to begin to consider. With more attention being focused on sex trafficking, traffickers are beginning to evaluate their business models and will be changing them to maximize profits while minimizing risks; they are going to go where the money is. Same thing with Johns, they are going to go where there is a lesser chance of being caught, the Internet.

So when you’re talking about sex trafficking and you’re relating stories of where it happens, be sure to mention the cam girl as well, in the future we will be hearing more about it.

- JB

 

 

 

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How to start ending human trafficking

jpg help wanted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Neo, you’ve just unplugged from the Matrix & have learned that nothing is as it seems. In just a short time you have learned that there are more people living in bondage than at any point in human history. The bus has just accelerated to 50mph & the bomb is armed… what do you do… what do you do (ok, so I mixed Keanu Reeves movies there, besides the point)

But seriously, people learn about human trafficking all the time & they don’t know what to do about it.

Here’s a short guide to get you started:

Start Reading: No joke, start reading the hell out of some human trafficking literature. I’d recommend anything by E. Benjamin Skinner & Kevin Bales. They’re more research oriented & less emotional. I know that’s rough to say but you have to make a decision on what sort of human trafficking advocate you are. Everybody wants to go the way of the ASPCA Commercials w/ Eyes of an Angel playing, but know that emotion causes everyone to shut down & they won’t really hear you. Oh they’ll listen but listening & hearing are two totally different things. I’d suggest that you go the research oriented route & learn how to end human trafficking, not just raise emotional awareness.

Change your own habits: So you’ve probably gotten interested in human trafficking via the sex route, that’s cool; it’s how most people get into it. But you have to know that most research suggests that forced labor & debt bondage are far worse by the numbers than sex trafficking. That’s not saying sex trafficking isn’t of great concern but most likely you’re not a direct consumer of it. You are however a direct consumer of items made by child & forced labor. Evaluate your purchases, become an ethical consumer & lead by example.

See past the BS: You’re going to see people using numbers, lots and lots of numbers to try and describe the scope & breadth of human trafficking. Before you even think about saying one of those numbers, sharing it on facebook or tweeting it; evaluate where those numbers came from. I’m not trying to bash our fellow advocates but when numbers come out on anything trafficking related people get stupid and never check them out. I read a tweet from an international organization the other day that stated the average trafficked victim was forced to perform up to 48 sex acts a day. That’s one every 30 minutes the entire 24 hours of the day. That’s not accurate and it is counterproductive to what all of us are trying to do. So please, before you start relaying numbers make sure that they’re accurate.

Volunteer: Every anti-trafficking org in the nation needs help. Whatever you’re good at or enjoy doing; they need help with that. Even if it’s just donating a tweet or sharing a status; DO IT! Help with fundraising, plan a fair trade party. Do something for the orgs! They really need your help.

I know that right now you probably want to make impassioned speeches to the United Nations and kick down doors to rescue kids, but evaluate your role. I believe it was Ghandi that said “Be the change you want to see in the world” & It was my grandmother that used to say “everybody want’s to save the world but no-one want’s to help with the dishes”

Start small, dream big & everything will fall into place.

 

- JB

 

 

 

 

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Innovators & entrepreneurs wanted!

jpg umbrella

Imagine a world before the umbrella. I know that’s a weird way to begin a blog post but just think about it for a few seconds. Before the umbrella when it started to rain, people ran for cover or they got wet. Then somebody came along, realized that getting wet & cold sucked and invented a self-contained, collapsable rain-hiding tool… and the world has never been the same. Full disclosure, I do not own an umbrella and I get friggin wet all the time.

We live in a time of the largest human rights violations in history, and our natural inclination is to look towards governments and police forces. Why? Sure, the government will pass laws, and the police will make busts but neither of those will end the system; research has shown consistantly that laws & jail do not dissuade people from committing crimes, only punish them after they have been committed.

Now how do these two paragraphs fit together, the umbrella and human rights violations?

The innovator & the entrepreneur

The innovator & the entrepreneur saw opportunity within the wet people running for cover, she/he saw that there was money to be made by making peoples lives a little bit easier, a little bit better. Human rights won’t improve and human trafficking will not end through laws and police action. Human rights will only improve when innovators and entrepeneurs recognize that there is money to be made by working for peace, and justice and making the world a better place. I know that’s harsh to say, and it makes it seem that people are motivated by money but hey… people are motivated by money. When the profit making potential incurred through ethical practices exceeds the profit making potential incurred through exploitative practices, the innovator and the entrepreneur will work with ethical methods; not because it’s right, but because it’s profitable. I’m a realist, and a capitalist. I believe that people should make money, and a lot of it; but money should not be made at the expense of others. In fact, in profiting, others should be helped to rise above their lot.

So how can the average person encourage the innovator & the entrepreneur?

Believe it or not, the average person is the driving force behind the global economy and almost every major decision. I know that may be hard to believe but think large. If you buy a widget, you generate a small local demand. If a million people buy widgets, it creates a moderate demand. If a billion people buy widgets, it is a tremendous demand. You can help by creating a demand for ethical products: buy fair trade stuff, locally grown produce, items which are clearly marked that they don’t use child or forced labor. Get your diamonds from Canada, your gold & silver from the U.S. or pawn shops & buy refurbished electronics. When the innovator & the entrepreneur see an increased demand for ethical products, and that there is profit potential there; the world will change.

The same can be said for reducing demand and removing profit potential. Don’t buy porn, commercial sex, or items that sexualize children (e.g. victoria secret “juicy” line for kids). Once individuals see that there is no demand for sexualized children, commercial sex &/or trafficked victims, they will get out of that business for more profitable ventures. No demand will lead to no supply. No supply means the end of sex trafficking.

Your small life choices are responsible for changing the world.

If you’d like to contribute to the conversation, or have any questions please shoot me an e-mail at jesse @ imagine freedom.org

- JB

 

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P^4: A framework to end human trafficking

P4

 

People, Places, Products, Processes

A Framework for ending human trafficking

Human Trafficking is a demand-driven, self-organizing system with a powerful feedback loop. It is self-organizing meaning the system itself brought about its own existence; there is no one powerful individual behind the scenes pulling the strings. It is made up of a multitude of different individuals each with differing levels of involvement. Although we like to think of the individuals involved as someone “other” than us, every action elicits a reaction within a closed-loop system, which means everyone is a part of the global system of exploitation in one way or another. The trafficking system has a feedback loop, which holds the power to increase or decrease the frequency of exploitation.  The feedback loop postulates that as individuals realize the benefits of the exploitation of others, exploitation is increased through the basic premise of supply and demand. The feedback loop is solely dependent upon demand, and if demand falls, the feedback loop will slow or even reverse both of which decrease exploitation.

The system of human trafficking is supported by and/or ended by 4 distinctive agencies:

A) People, B) Places, C) Processes, D) Products.

  • People:

Although the majority of attention is placed on the victim/survivor, the trafficker and in instances of sex trafficking, the john, all people are involved in the system of human trafficking to varying levels. The key to ending human trafficking is to curb demand, which in turn will end supply. To decrease demand, the most effective use of resources is to target the general public, and in instances of sex trafficking, the johns. This does not however negate the need of the rescue, education and economic re-integration of the victim/survivor, the capture, punishment, and reformation of the trafficker, as well as the institution of preventative programming aimed at stopping new individuals from entering the system of exploitation.

 

  • Places:

Human trafficking does not occur within isolation, it happens just below the surface of visible society. Much as wildlife predators require a fertile hunting ground to survive, so do traffickers. Traffickers operate in the borderlands where poverty, lack of education, lack of opportunity, and lack of social structure adjoin with areas of financial stability, opportunity, and social structure. In short, traffickers often recruit within disorganized “source” communities and sell within organized “destination” communities; this skirting of worlds is integral to their business model. The most effective distribution of resources is to target the intersections of both source and destination communities. These intersections occur within schools & universities, hotels/motels, sporting events/conventions, truck/rest stops, bars and the Internet.

  • Products:

Although the majority of attention is given to sex trafficking, forced and child labor are estimated to be far more predominant within global exploitation. All aspects of the importation and production of items containing elements of forced labor have been outlawed, we however live in a consumer-based economy; our culture teaches us to purchase, consume, discard, and repeat. Generally speaking, consumers want to do the right thing as long as it is convenient, does not cost them additional money, and does not interfere with their chosen lifestyle. To help ease demand for goods containing elements of exploitation and generate a demand for ethical products, there needs to be an easy way for consumers to identify and purchase said goods. As more consumers develop an increased demand for ethical goods, the feedback loop will influence businesses which will follow or fail, both of which helps to end exploitation within products.

 

  • Processes:

Most of what we know of human trafficking involves estimations and emotional testimonies in order to “guilt” people into caring; neither of these methods will do anything to end the system of exploitation. Human trafficking as a system will be constantly evolving to adapt so as to continue its own existence. As such a significant amount of resources needs to be allocated to the continued understanding, research and distribution of relevant and accurate information. Without an accurate understanding of the system and how to end it, all other efforts will be fruitless. 

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Report it!

Call in your suspicions to local authorities and the NHTRC 1.888.373.7888 or text 233733

Call in your suspicions to local authorities and the NHTRC 1.888.373.7888 or text 233733

We often monitor and research websites known to host advertisements for commercial sex. We do this because sex trafficking hides within these well established markets. Monitoring these websites is really an awful task and I’m so grateful to have staff & volunteers that take it on. You look at hundreds and hundreds of pictures of half-naked girls and copy down all of the information from these advertisements. From this data, patterns emerge and we are able to learn some valuable information. Check out The Cleveland Backpage Report to learn a little more about the process.

Last night one of our volunteers was going through her research & came across a situation indicative of human trafficking. We reported it to federal authorities.

Statistically speaking, most everyone comes across a situation of human trafficking and doesn’t known about it, or just didn’t put 2 & 2 together. That’s a rough sentence but think about the numbers. It’s estimated that between 22-27 million individuals are enslaved worldwide today, around 17,500 people are smuggle into the U.S. yearly destined for a form of slavery, and between 100.000-300.000 children are estimated to be at-risk. When you break down the numbers, roughly 1 in every 400 people are in some form of human trafficking. Is that number accurate? Nobody really knows, there’s not a census or anything to measure it; but many researchers (me included) are working to give an accurate data picture.

So what can you do? If you suspect human trafficking, call it in (please don’t intervene personally it can be dangerous)

Here are some signs to look for:

  • Under 18 & working in commercial sex (stripping, web-cam, prostitution)
  • Submissive or fearful
  • Signs of physical abuse (including branding, scarification or tattoos)
  • Answers/conversations appear scripted & rehearsed
  • Inability to speak alone (someone else is always around)
  • Living with an “employer”
  • Poor living conditions
  • Doesn’t know where they are, what city, what day of the week etc.
  • Not in possession of a passport, travel papers etc.

If you suspect something please report it to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center #NHTRC at 1.888.373.7888 or text at 233733 and also report it to your local authorities.

The first suspected human trafficking situation I reported years ago, resulted in the arrest of a trafficker and the freeing of numerous under and of-age girls. If you don’t report it, who else is going to?

Peace

- JB

 

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Why refurbished electronics?

Many metals within electronics come from areas known to use child & forced labor

Many metals within electronics come from areas known to use child & forced labor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recently had someone ask “How the hell does buying refurbished electronics help to end human trafficking”, to help answer that rather intense question, Viola’ a blog post!

The use of technology has exploded in recent years. Think about the early 1990′s (if you we’re around) some people had cell phones (but they were huuugee!!!) , the Internet was reserved for geeks, & there was a pay phone on every corner (at least in cities…) In-short, not that much consumer-based technology. Flash forward to today where this past weekend I saw a 6-year-old with a smartphone texting someone. Who doesn’t have at least one computer, tablet, gaming system, smart phone, etc. in about 20-years technology has overtaken our very being. We are technology. Have you ever gone a day without your cell phone recently? Proves my point.

So here’s the deal, lots of people are familiar with the environmental stuff that goes on with the manufacturing of technology. I’m not here to harp on that, get that info from an environmental org. I’m here to talk about the human aspect of tech & no, not like in child labor assembling the stuff. That’s the tip of the iceberg.

Inside of your technology are a bunch of different metals. True, there are only small amounts in there– but there are metals all the same. You’ll find them in the electrical connections, the batteries, the switches, etc. Now imagine these small amounts of metals magnified hundreds of millions, potentially billions of times within the technology industry. When you consider the global cell phone industry, you’re talking tons and tons of these metals.

The problem with these metals is that many of them come from conflict-zones & areas known to exploit both child and forced labor. The major producers are Russia, India, China, Rwanda, Congo, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil etc… these areas have been identified time and time again for human rights violations in their products and labor practices.

So here’s where you come in. One small thing you can do to help end human trafficking & spread human rights in general is buy refurbished or reconditioned electronics. Here’s why it works:

When new products need to be made, that means new metals need to be mined. If new metals need to be mined there is a significant chance of forced & child labor. But we already have a huge stockpile of existing electronics just sitting around. A cell phone is 6-months-old and people toss it aside. A television has a nicked cabinet, it gets returned to best buy. The refurbished electronics industry takes items that would have ended up in landfills, fixes them and puts them back on the market. Refurbishing electronics uses an existing supply of products rather than the constant manufacture of new products.

Now true, the metals that exist in the refurbished electronics were most likely harvested with exploitation however, using the existing product multiple times eases the global demand for these metals.  If more and more people begin to purchase refurbished electronics, basic business practices say that manufacturers will be less likely to use forced or child labor because there won’t be the extreme demand for these metals. No demand = no supply.

Additionally, if more and more people start to use refurbished and voice their opinion on why, manufacturers will start to change their business practices or they will fail (both options will help to end human trafficking within products).

So when you’re buying stuff, especially electronics, look for that refurbished tag. You’re helping to reduce the environmental cost, the human cost and you’re saving money. Good business practice.

Your dollar is your voice, spend wisely.

Peace

- JB

 

 

 

 

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Slavery??? Somebody should do something about that!!!

Live free so that others can do the same.

Live free so that others can do the same.

Human trafficking; it’s real, it’s substantial and it’s happening around you.

The only question, is what are you going to do to stop it?

At this point, most everyone gets ticked off and starts spouting off about the need for more policing, increased money spent on the problem, harsher laws, more governmental oversight… blah, blah, blah, garbage….

Here’s the skinny: No amount of governmental influence, money, police presence or harsh laws will make a dent in ending human trafficking. Sure, people will get punished and survivors will get rescued; but that doesn’t end the system.

The only thing that will make a difference, is you. You are more powerful than you could ever imagine; the way you live your life is the key.

Here’s 10 things that you can do that will help to end human trafficking, in your own backyard and abroad:

10. Eat Local = End Slavery: There are numerous accusations of forced & child labor in food. By going to local farmers markets, you’re not just helping out the environment, you’re helping to remove the financial incentive to exploit others.

9. Vintage Jewelry = End Slavery: Diamonds, precious metals and gemstones are known to be harvested through forced & child labor. By going vintage (Pawn shops, used jewelry stores, etc.) you are removing the financial incentive to exploit others & doing to the environment a great service. Have you ever seen how that stuff is mined?

8. Refurbished Electronics = End Slavery: Here’s that pesky precious metals stuff again… Currently, there is not one ethical cell phone on the planet (I know, I’ve checked for soo long). Your electronics have platinum, gold, silver, palladium, etc… contained within their electric components. Where’s that stuff come from? You’ve got it, exploitative economic conditions. By going refurbished, you’re not only saving money for yourself but removing your dollar from current/future exploitation.

7. Fairtrade Chocolate & Coffee = End Slavery: I love chocolate and wish at times that I could replace my blood with dark french roast… but both of these commodities are known to contain elements of forced & child labor. The label “fair trade” means that the grower/producer receives a fair wage for their product which in turn encourages them to pay their laborers. Yeah, it costs a little bit more but if more and more people created a market demand, the price will drop and it will become the dominant market share of products.

6. Stop Buying Porn = End Slavery: Porn??? Who buys porn??? Yeah, right. I know, nobody ever buys porn… Paying for porn encourages niche markets and creates a demand for niche commercial sex. Have you ever noticed how the ages of our supermodels have dropped throughout the ages? Same thing happens with our commercial sex stars. There are tons of sites/magazines that advertise “barely legal”, “just turned 18″ etc… heck, I’ve seen some where they even show the persons license proving that they’ve only been 18 for a week or two…  If there’s that much porn surrounding “just turned 18″, what’s stopping from 17, 16 or even younger. Additionally, many Eastern European countries have no child porn laws, meaning its legal for them to record & distribute. Dry up demand for porn, dry up supply.

5. Stop Creating A Demand For Underage Sex = End Slavery: Commercial sex is a system in and of itself, consumer demand creates a world of underage sexualized kids. Don’t believe me? Think Victoria’s Secret Juicy Line… You’ve got the word “juicy” painted across an underage girls but, right… no innuendo there whatsoever. When we buy those types of products, we validate their business practices and products creating whats called a feedback loop. Stop buying their products & the businesses move on to other more profitable ventures.

4. Host A Foster Child/Become a Big Brother/Big Sister = End Slavery: There are a ton of kids in need of good homes &/or role models. I know that fostering is a huge commitment, & should only be undertaken for the right reasons. If you’re thinking about it, do it! Being a big brother/big sister gives a kid, possibly an at-risk kid someone to look up to. Live your life as an example.

3. Teach Others = End Slavery: Believe it or not, even though slavery is larger now than at any point in human history, most people don’t even know it. Pick an org & share their message on your social media profile.

2. Don’t Buy Commercial Sex = End Slavery: Sex trafficking hides within preexisting markets for commercial sex; meaning not all prostitutes are willing. Just like the porn thing… nobody ever buys time with a prostitute… if that was true, there wouldn’t be prostitution. So don’t buy any form of commercial sex, just because she/he is smiling in their advertisement doesn’t mean that they’re willing.

1. Live As An Example = End Slavery: The French Philosopher Albert Camus once wrote “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion”. Think about the quote for a moment, you live in unfree times; the way you live holds distinct influence over others. While we would like to look to governments, or police or military to end the worlds problems, they pale in comparison to what the population can do if we just choose to act.

Peace

- JB

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