Yesterday, UNA-GB held a teatime discussion with Dr. Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations. In her role as Assistant Secretary, Dr. Brimmer leads the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, which strives to advance U.S. interests through international organizations in areas including human rights, peacekeeping, food security, humanitarian relief, and climate change.
During the discussion, Dr. Brimmer spoke about the role of the U.S. in conflicts such as Libya, Mali, and Syria, to name a few. She also spoke about the changing nature of women and conflict. For example, there has been an increase in the number of women involved in peacekeeping operations. She also spoke about the creation of UN Women, which strives for gender equality. UN Women also deals with issues of human trafficking, human rights, humanitarian action, and peace and security.
Dr. Brimmer also offered insight on her personal experience working in her current position. She said that her most rewarding experience was in September 2009 when she spoke at the Human Rights Council on behalf of the U.S. It was at this session that the U.S. pledged to advance human rights and strengthen the Human Rights Council.
We would like to thank Dr. Brimmer for giving her time to talk to UNA-GB members. We are very lucky to have had her give her insight on her current role. Thank you, Dr. Brimmer!
Our next event is in a few days! Join Women’s Forum @ UNA-GB on Monday, March 4 for International Women’s Day. For more details, check out this link: http://wfiwd2013.eventbrite.com
Last night I attended a UNICEF screening of “Not My Life;” a documentary sharing the stories of boys and girls around the world who are victims of the 2nd most profitable criminal industry in the world – human trafficking. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, subjecting and coercing men, women and children into commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. Click here for the trailer of “Not My Life.”
It is estimated that 27 million people are enslaved today, half of which are children. Victims are often forced into prostitution, pornography, sex tourism, forced marriage, sweatshop work, begging, armed service and migrant farming. Traffickers, who can literally be anyone, can prey on a wide-range of victims; no gender, age, race or economic class is safe. Modern-day slavery it is occurring all over the globe, even in the US and yes, even under our noses in Boston.
“Not My Life” showed boys forced to fish all day in dirty African waters, child soldiers in Sudan, child prostitutes in Cambodia and abusive pimps in India. It would be remiss to assume that this behavior only occurs in faraway countries. For example, the film showed a bright, young American girl forced into prostitution and a young African girl forced into slave labor in Washington D.C. UNICEF says that “human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states in the US,” and anyone of any race, education or socioeconomic standing is at risk.
The women of the panel, Susan Bissell of UNICEF and Lina Nealon of Demand Abolition, stressed that the most important way to end human trafficking in our lifetime is through prevention (as opposed to rehabilitation). We need to have better laws/policies, promote anti-slavery societal norms, fight debt-poverty and violence within the family. Ms. Bissel and Ms. Nealon stated Massachusetts has the most comprehensive anti-trafficking laws; however, these laws are clearly not enough.
So, you may be asking, what can one do to help stop human trafficking? Here are some ideas. First, put the National Human Trafficking Hotline number in your phone and use it if you see something suspicious! The number is 1-888-373-7888.
In addition, think about supporting a group (such as the ones below) who fight human trafficking or find some other that speaks to you! Tweet us @UNAGB for any suggestions you may have about how you can help prevent and stop human trafficking!
On June 22nd, 2007, the US Senate passed a resolution designating January 11th as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Human trafficking is modern day slavery that involves the sexual and labor exploitation of millions of men, women and children worldwide. Human trafficking has no borders. It is estimated that 800,000individuals are trafficked across international borders worldwide. In the United States alone, 18,000-20,000 victims are trafficked into or within this country every year. It is estimated that nearly 80% of those individuals are children.
The UN is actively involved in the fight against human trafficking. In July 2010, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, which urges governments to take coordinated, comprehensive and consistent steps to combat such trafficking and to adopt a human rights-based approach. To support the action plan, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons with humanitarian activists Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, the following November. The Trust Fund is administered by the UNODC which is additionally advised by a Board of Trustees appointed by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The Fund provides humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims of human trafficking with the aim of increasing the number of victims who are rescued and supported, and broadening the extent of assistance they receive.
What you can do today:
Today, anti-trafficking organizations across the U.S. are hosting events to raise awareness for the issue of trafficking. There will be several events held here in Boston- we would love to see you if you are around!
Not For Sale Massachusetts will be staging a FREEZE to raise awareness of modern day slavery on 1.11.11. A FREEZE is where a large group of people stand completely still in a natural pose for three minutes starting at the same exact second. After the three minutes are up, everyone walks away normally and we will hand out flyers with more information.
Date: January 11, 2011
Time: 12:00-1:00pm, lunch hour
Location: Faneuil Hall Marketplace -inside Quincy Market 4 South Market Building
RSVP and learn more here.
The New England Coalition Against Trafficking is promoting a moment of silence at 11am on Tuesday as well.
UNA-GB is also a signatory on an open letter to Boston residents about the prevalence of human trafficking and what can be done to combat it. The Human Trafficking Awareness Day letter and Suggested Action Steps can be found online here.
We hope to see you at today’s events!