Series puts spotlight on slavery

  • By Nathan Yaffee For the Enterprise
  • Friday, March 7, 2008 2:25pm

Sarah Sweeney, a community activist, is leading a series of meetings at North Creek Presbyterian Church in Mill Creek to bring a tragedy to light, and hopefully end it.

More than 20 million people are enslaved in sexual, agricultural, manual, and other kinds of labor worldwide, said Sweeney. Tens of thousands of these slaves are trafficked into the United States every year.

Two video documentaries were shown on Wednesday, Feb. 20, to illustrate the insidiousness of human trafficking and its far reaching impacts in communities around the globe. Heart wrenching tales of the sex trade in India were told by young survivors — boys and girls The documentaries detailed how poverty contributes to this growing human rights crisis.

Young people in third world countries are lured by traffickers and kidnappers promising their small victims access to healthcare and education — sometimes money.

Sweeney pointed to firmly held belief among Americans that slavery hasn’t existed for more than 100 years.

“It’s like, a lot of people now, they think that it [slavery] was done away with the emancipation proclamation,” she said, with a sad tone.

One organization committed to increasing awareness and someday solving the problem of human trafficking is the “Not for Sale Campaign.”

The national organization is run in part by David Batstone, a professor of ethics at the University of San Francisco.

He started the movement when he realized the owners of his favorite restaurant in San Francisco were using slaves from India to perform various kitchen duties and serve customers.

“Twenty-seven million people in the world are enslaved,” Sweeney said.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency estimates that 50,000 slaves are smuggled into the United States from other countries every year.

Brothels in Bombay, India alone make $700 million a year, according to reports in the documentary “The Day my God Died.”

Twelve people attended the meeting earlier this month, 13 counting Sweeney.

However, a sign-in sheet outside the meeting room had 48 names on it.

That’s how many people have participated in the meetings to date.

Additional meetings will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday March 12 and Wednesday March 19. For additional information on the Not for Sale Campaign visit the Web site at www.notforsalecampaign.org.