January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month
Human trafficking is the second largest illegal trade in the world, second only to drugs. Estimates of how much it’s worth range from $32 billion to $150 billion.
The enormity of the problem makes you feel helpless, wondering how just one person can make a difference. But you can help by changing how you approach an everyday task.
Poverty is the number one factor supplying victims to traffickers. When a person can’t earn enough to support themselves or their family, selling themselves or their children into slavery is often his or her only recourse.
Fair trade gives those most vulnerable another option. When workers receive living wages for honorable work, the dark lure of trafficking becomes a non-factor.
Fair trade businesses go beyond fair wages by also providing access to health care, training in skills and business, safe working conditions, and in many cases, free schools for the workers’ children. Many actually do the hard work of rescuing trafficked women and rehabilitating them.
Two companies whose products I sell are deeply involved in the fight against trafficking. Malia Designs’ mission is to increase economic opportunity for women in Cambodia by giving them a viable source of income to break the cycle of trafficking.
Their beautiful purses and wallets are all made by these most vulnerable women. Malia Designs also donates part of its profits to organizations fighting human trafficking in Southeast Asia.
The Starfish Project works to restore hope to trafficking survivors in Asia. Its jewelry business gives women meaningful employment in a safe and supportive environment.
In addition, Starfish Project provides the women with free room and board, counseling, education, vocational training and health care, all designed to help them pursue a brighter future for themselves and their families. Staff and volunteers also work the streets to establish relationships with women still trapped in exploitation, helping them to eventually break free.
So what is that daily task you can change that helps in this fight? Choose to shop differently. When you buy fair trade products made by survivors and those at risk of trafficking, your money goes directly to provide them with sustainable, dignified work to support themselves and their children.
Your purchasing decisions can have a lasting impact on this most barbaric of crimes. Click on the red links above to see all the products from these two companies or click on the sample photos below.
Artisan photos courtesy of Malia Designs and The Starfish Project.