Do you know Ashton Kutcher? The main punk from "Punk'd"? Well, that was him who was the first to tell me about modern day slavery. No, of course, I haven't had a face-to-face conversation with him, it was through Twitter, silly.
Ashton Kutcher, @aplusk in Twitterverse and whose twits, surprisingly to many, bear a lot of important messages to his 4 million audience, came a long way from Punk'd, as you can now see. Yes, I am shamelessly using his popularity to attract attention to global slavery. After all, that's exactly what he and his wife, Demi Moore (@mrskutcher), are doing. In January 2010 they have founded DNA Foundation that aims to eliminate child sex slavery worldwide. Yes CHILD sex slavery; we are not talking about teenagers here, but about tiny 8, 9, 10 year-olds! "More than one million women and children are trafficked across international borders every year. In just the United States, between 150,000 and 300,000 children are enslaved and sold for sex." Why on earth would somebody do that? Because it is nothing but a business and it is all about business in this world, isn't it? "Child trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world-a $39 Billion a year industry!" And it will remain just another ( yet extremely profitable) industry, as long as we, ordinary people, and along with us important decision makers continue to look the other way (Demi & Ashton Foundation: http://demiandashton.org.)
The next time I heard about slavery was during the showing of "Call+Response" documentary at my university. The creator of the project actually brought it to ODU himself and had Q&A session after the showing. His name is Justin Dillon, a musician himself, he once found himself saving a Russian girl from becoming a sex slave. After this close-encounter with the industry he did some research and realized how big and omnipresent the slave trading industry is and that he had to do something about it.
Did you know that there are 27 million slaves in the world? That there are more slaves today in the world than ever before in human history? Did you know that in 2007 slave traders made more money than Google, Nike, and Starbucks combined and 8 times more than UN budget?! I didn't know either, but knowing is not enough, we have to take action! As much as I loved and was inspired by "Call & Response", I was even happier that my friend who is an art-therapy student was so influenced by the documentary that she considered being a rehabilitation specialist for victims of slavery. Talking about Response here!
Nevertheless, forced prostitution is not the only form of slavery, there are also child soldiers and labor slavery. The latter maybe the most preventable, because each one of us through our consumer choices can make a difference so easily! By simply sending a letter to the companies, you show that you don't want to buy products made by children or slaves and can force the big corporations to change their practices and become more aware of human right issues in the lowest levels of their supply chains. Go to http://chainstorereaction.com/, choose a company and send a letter- you don't even have to write it, the letter is ready for you to sign it! Put your name and email address just once and then all you have to do is to choose again and click! See the real difference you can make: companies as Kenneth Cole, Gap, Banana Republic, and BCBG Max Azria have already responded to the plea and changed their policies!
Finally, check out Call+ Response website http://www.callandresponse.com/ and you will find out everything you need to know about slavery and how you can make a difference.
Be aware, take action, see the results, help people gain their freedom, because "justice is what love looks like in public," and because the problem is not as far from you as you might think.
P.S. I will continue writing about global slavery in my review of the book by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, luminaries on the issue and proponents of women's empowerment.