How many times have you thought about someone you have not seen for a very long time and the very next person you come into contact is that person? Its kinda freaky, right? Well this just so happened to me recently… twice. Let me set the stage for you. Rachel, my good friend from college helped create the non-profit organization called “The Sold Project”. It is an organization that helps young children in Thailand who are at high risk for entering the horrible human trafficking and sex trade industry taking place over there. Their goal is to provide education to high risk kids so they can make the right decisions to stay on the straight and narrow and not enter the world of prostitution. This organization does so much to help the at risk population it is unbelievable. The employees are so dedicated to this cause and it quite inspiring. A couple years back they created a documentary titled “The SOLD Project”. I was lucky enough to go to a screening and saw the horrible social injustices going on in Thailand, but also the amazing lengths that fellow humans will go toward helping one another to help make the world a better place.
Just recently after not seeing Rachel for a couple years, due to her getting married and moving to Thailand to help run the “SOLD Project” I was able to have breakfast with her when she was randomly passing through Los Angles. I was so happy to catch up with her and learn about all the amazing things she is doing and eagerly offered to help out in anyway I can.
Below is a link to “The SOLD Project”. Here you will be able to navigate the website and explore for yourself how wonderful this organization is. For just $4.00 a week you will change the life of these young children. But you can also do much more, I strongly urge you to check it out, you will not be sorry!
Like I was saying earlier, it is kinda freaky when you think about something or someone and then out of thin air it appears. A couple weeks ago I saw an article about Ricky Martin and his twin sons. That got my curiosity up and running. I was intrigued that Ricky Martin, international superstar, decided to have have a child being a single parent and better yet, twins via a surrogate. As I was talking to a friend about this he said to me, “Shaun, you know I Ricky’s manager and best friend right?”. Me, being someone not to pass up an opportunity, asked for an introduction to Ricky when he would be in town for his book signing at the Barnes & Noble. I wanted to ask him about the trials and tribulations of raising his two boys, something that being a “Manny” I know a thing or two about. I also wanted to ask him about his foundation that “advocates for the well being of children around the globe in critical areas such as social justice, education and health. Our principal project, People for Children, condemns child exploitation as a consequence of human trafficking and modern day slavery.”
As my friend and I were standing in the secret back alley entrance of the book store with 2 body guards and his entourage waiting for Ricky to arrive from his interview from “Larry King Live” I knew I probably wouldn’t have the amount of time I wanted to speak with Ricky as I originally hoped for. When Ricky arrived, we said hello and all that small talk stuff you do, then were all whisked away to the elevator to meet his 850 fans screaming in the book store, which they shut down due to the amount of people in attendance. Regardless of the amount of time I spent with Ricky I was still impressed that this guy first and foremost seems to be a great dad and secondly that he is using his voice to bring light to human trafficking.
So where do these two stories come together you may ask? Besides the common bond that both Rachel and Ricky are dedicating their time, energy, and resources to help children who are being exploited throughout the world. I guess the only real thing tying this story together is that when I met Ricky on his whirl wind promotional book tour it was a Tuesday night and when I met Rachel on her way through town it was the next morning for breakfast. I don’t know why I was around these people at those specific times, but both of them are fighting for human issues. I thought it was a worthwhile blog topic if only to spark interest in what is going on in other parts of the world, but to help motivate YOU to take some sort of action YOURSELF.
Ricky Martin’s Foundation:
FACTS from the website, Youthnoise.com
(a) “Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;
(b) The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation in subparagraph (a) of this articled shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used;
(c) The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered “trafficking in persons” even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article;
(d) “Child” shall mean any person under eighteen years of age.
Sex trafficking has become a multi-billion dollar business, and is the third most profitable business for organized crime, after drugs and arms dealing. Due to its very nature, the exact statistics of sex trafficking are extremely hard to estimate. Anywhere from 700,000 and 4 million women and children are trafficked for the purpose of sex and sexual exploitation every year.
Every thirty seconds, another person becomes a victim. Women are lured by traffickers with false promises of low-skilled jobs such as domestic help, models, and other jobs, and are then forced to work as prostitutes.
Traffickers tell the girls that they need to work off debts of thousands of dollars or more. They then are forced to sleep with upwards of twenty men a day at twenty dollars a piece. Out of this the women themselves earn only $3, which goes towards paying off their “debts.” Physical violence, rape, retention of legal documents, as well as the girls’ fear of deportation and corrupt police effectively enable traffickers to enslave these women.
The men these women are forced to sleep with don’t use condoms, affectively increasing the rate of STD’s, including AIDS, especially in countries where sleeping with a virgin is considered a cure for AIDS. If one of these girls happens to become pregnant, they are forced to undergo abortions, the price of which is then added onto their “debts”. The traffickers tell the girls that they have to pay for room, board, the amount it cost to get them into the country, and various other things.
They are denied basic medical care and are subjected to horrific human rights violations. The age of the average trafficking victim is becoming younger and younger. Girls as young as 7 are being trafficked for child prostitution. The average age of prostitutes being trafficked into certain Asian brothels is 14. In South America, children as young as 12 are being kidnapped off the streets and then trafficked into Mexico. In the United States, trafficking has started to become a large problem.
An estimated 14,500 and 17,500 women and children are trafficked into the United States each year, with New York, California, and Florida having the most cases. Since victims of trafficking usually don’t speak out for fear of retaliation, they are usually arrested for prostitution and then deported back to their home country, with no consequences to the traffickers or the brothel owners.
The leading causes of death among trafficked women are, in this order, homicide, suicide, drug and alcohol related problems, HIV infection and accidents. The homicide rate is 17% higher among victims of trafficking then the average.
Due to certain trafficking laws and legislation in some countries, human trafficking can be an extremely profitable business–with very low risks. According to INTERPOL, trafficking generated $19 billion annually.
The emotional and psychological impact of trafficked women is horrendous. Over half of trafficking victims have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The severity of their PTSD symptoms are equivalent to those of treatment-seeking combat veterans and refugees from state organized torture.