Jamie Freeze Baird
A cause worth fighting for
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By Jamie Freeze Baird
December 26, 2009

As you celebrated the Christmas season with your family, I'm sure you reflected on the importance of family and friends. Perhaps you watched anxiously as your children opened gifts, and you were thrilled by their cries of excitement and joy. Perhaps as you gathered with family and friends around a holiday meal, you were thankful for a roof over your head, food on the table, and the clothes on your back. Perhaps you took a moment to pray for our troops who were separated from their families this Christmas. Perhaps you reflected on how much your freedom means to you. However, as you enjoyed time with your family and friends in the Land of the Free, men, women, boys and girls around the world were enslaved. And those already enslaved were being used. Unfortunately, human trafficking never takes a holiday.

According to the International Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by the threat or use of kidnapping, force, fraud, deception or coercion, or by the giving or receiving of unlawful payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, and for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor.

A recent study indicated that 225,000 Haitian children are used as domestic slaves in Haiti. Typically, these children are "sold" by their own parents out of poverty's desperation. Of the children, two-thirds are girls. Since unemployment has reached 70% in Haiti and people live on less than $2 a day, human trafficking and organized crime have become a large problem. Human trafficking is also a problem in Palestine where women are forced into prostitution and are often cruelly beaten. Tales of horror are beginning to emerge from the war-torn region, yet the trafficking continues. Earlier this month, 107 people were rescued in Mexico City after being used as slave laborers. Of the victims, ages 14-70, some had been tortured and sexually abused. According to officials, the victims were forced to work sixteen hour days with only a thirty minute break in which to eat (this means no bathroom breaks). This was not an isolated incident. A recent study found that 10,000 people are trafficked annually in Mexico. Slave labor is rampant in underdeveloped countries. Last year, Brazil freed 4,634 victims who used in slave labor. People in Pakistan are also falling victim to slavery due to the desperation of poverty.

Many people think human trafficking is an anomaly or just something that occurs in developing countries. However, each year, 17,500 (60,000 by other estimates) individuals are brought to the United States and held against their will. Many of these victims are sexually abused and exploited. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that between 100,000-300,000 American are victims of sexual trafficking annually. The victims of trafficking are typically the poorest and most vulnerable in society: children, women, migrants, runaways, and the poor.

In 2000, it became a federal crime in the United States to engage in human trafficking, yet as we see, human trafficking is still a huge problem even internationally. But what can we do? First of all, don't fall into the trap of thinking it only occurs in other countries. Clearly, human trafficking is a serious problem in the United States. Don't let human trafficking become an "out of sight, out of mind" issue. Second, we need to advocate for the victims of human trafficking, especially those who are victims of sex trafficking. Currently, our laws say that children cannot consent to sex, yet they can often be charged for selling sex. This must change. Police often misidentify human trafficking and call it prostitution, truancy or curfew violations. Victims (even adult victims) of human trafficking should not be penalized for being victims. They only people who should be treated as criminals are the buyers and sellers of human beings. It is to our shame that we allow the victims of trafficking to be treated as criminals in our court system, when they were never the criminals.

If you still want to reject that human trafficking is a real threat, consider the following case. Back in early November, a beautiful five-year-old girl was raped, murdered, and dumped on the roadside in Fayetteville, NC. Her mother was charged with human trafficking after allegedly prostituting her little girl. Little Shaniya Davis lived a short life filled with unspeakable horror and pain. Hopefully, justice will be served on her mother and her murderer, but that justice cannot bring back Shaniya. A little life snuffed out because of the evils of human trafficking. We can sit back and act like this kind of stuff doesn't happen. Or, we can let the horror and disgust motivate us to advocate for the victims of human trafficking. Perhaps you can make the difference in a man, woman, boy or girl's life. Perhaps you are their last hope. Don't let this issue fall to the wayside like other New Year's Resolutions; make a thoughtful effort to combat human trafficking. Write to your legislators. Write letters to the editor. Volunteer at crisis centers. Donate items to rescue groups. Go to law enforcement agencies and advocate for these victims. After all, nothing is more sacred than human life and dignity be it life at home or abroad.

© Jamie Freeze Baird

 

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Jamie Freeze Baird

Jamie Baird received battlefield experience in the war of ideology while attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While earning her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History, she served as Vice President of the College Republicans and was the lone conservative opinion columnist for The Carolinian, UNCG's student newspaper. After surviving college without becoming a liberal, she graduated in 2009. Jamie received her Master of Arts in Government, with certification in Law and Public Policy from Regent University in 2011, where she was also active in the College Republicans. You can contact Jamie at jamiebaird12@gmail.com with questions, comments, rants, and snide remarks.

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