Slavery in my backyard and a thousand points of light

Local slaves from Mexico, Russia, and…

(At the lecture) Coonan also said that it’s happening within the Chinese community as well, with traffickers promising young women a better life in America. According to Coonan, in nearby Quincy, a Chinese restaurant has Hispanic women working there and living in a small shed behind the restaurant. Many of these restaurants also have their employees living in the kitchen after hours as well.

“I think the most shocking thing is that everything is close to home,” said Danielle May, who attended the lecture. “This is not something that you see on the international news being in Cambodia, or Thailand. This issue is happening at home. I think it’s scary. Quincy is 45 minutes away and people are being enslaved. This is shocking that this is 2007 and slavery is still going on.”

According to the lecture, countries lose U.S. aid if they do not enforce trafficking laws. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, stipulates that if a victim testifies on being trafficked, they receive a Traffic Visa (T-Visa), which allows them permission to work in the U.S. for about three years and then they are eligible to apply for a green card.
Most Americans are stunned to find slavery still exists in the United States, let alone the rest of the world. Unlike the state-sanctioned, race-based crime of the past, modern-day slavery is largely an illegal, global phenomenon, fueled primarily by commercial gain.

Some are slaves in factories and farms. Others-primarily women and girls-are slaves in brothels in Mumbai, Amsterdam or Las Vegas. Still others are held in domestic servitude. Children are kidnapped as child soldiers, forced to become street beggars, or lured and abused as slaves to an underground industry known as child sex tourism.

Government alone can’t stop the international slave trade. That’s why a coalition of private citizens, nonprofit organizations and civic leaders are nurturing and leading a 21st century abolitionist movement by spotlighting the issue, increasing public awareness, pushing countries to do more, and producing programs to help throw the traffickers in jail and protect the survivors.

We are beginning to understand the tricks of today’s human traffickers, which are the same tactics as those used by the slave masters of old: deception, fraud, coercion, kidnapping, beatings and rape.

Victims obtained from a foreign country are often lured by deceptive schemes. They usually arrive indebted to their handlers, seldom know where they are, rarely speak the local language and have no one to turn to after the traffickers seize their passports and documentation.

Under the control of the traffickers, victims are subjected to overwhelming physical and mental pressures. Confined by beatings and threats against their families back home, trafficking victims surrender their dignity to poor living conditions and long hours in order to enrich their captors.

Trafficking victims-whether from across the ocean or the street-learn to trust no one, not even the police. Coerced to cooperate, trafficking victims become skilled at hiding in plain sight, disguising their shame from society, ever wary of discovery and fearful of retribution.

There’s a movement afoot. It asks each of us to be responsible, find out what is happening, pay attention to the signals, and insist on nothing less than abolition.

Categories of slavery are listed by the Department of State.

1-888-373-7888 is a number to call to ask for advice and report concerns:scared, foreign, unable to leave premises, demeanor is not natural might indicate employment is not voluntary.

Funding for a two year study of and help for slaves in the US under the The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 was won in 2003 in the area and then not renewed. Grants are notoriously fleeting.

The idea that there are 100,000 actual ‘domestic servitude’ slaves in the US is so stunning for most of us that in my opinion it simply slips away in denial rather than outrage, even for me.

Aside from the psychological aspects of slavery, 90% in one study of ‘freed slaves’ report that sending money home (meaning most of the money) was more important, as the perception was the money sent was needed to help avoid catastrophe at the slaves’ home of origin, or local traffickers would harm family that remained behind if trouble was caused. Powerful forces indeed.

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