There is Hope...

September 21, 2012 0 Comments

There is Hope...

One of the core tenets of the mission and heart behind what we do at Yobel Market is awareness. We strongly believe that awareness is the first step to action – by choosing to actively open our eyes and hearts to an area of injustice, we’ve already begun to put ourselves in the shoes of one who is able to make change. We hope and believe that awareness is a powerful tool in helping us become activists in whatever capacity life has for us.

One opportunity that Yobel provides for awareness, is sponsoring monthly documentary nights – we open these nights up to the community, choose a justice themed documentary to show, and have a bit of discussion afterwards. This month we chose to screen Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, an award-winning documentary that examines the most profitable business in the world: human trafficking. An issue that affects upwards of 27 million people today, human trafficking has become a human rights buzzword as governments and individuals alike begin to recognize how widespread and complex this issue truly is. Organizations like the Polaris Project, the International Justice Mission, the A21 Campaign, and the Somaly Mam Foundation are just a hand-full of the countless other organizations actively working to bring this issue to light and work with authorities around the world to stop this modern-day slavery.

Though human trafficking often seems localized to a specific area of the world, far removed from Western culture, Nefarious takes viewers from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Pattaya, Thailand to Amsterdam, Netherlands to Las Vegas, USA, capturing the magnitude and reach of human trafficking. The documentary makers present a powerful and often shocking picture by interviewing former victims, government officials, anti-trafficking experts, and even former traffickers, helping us gain a glimpse into the darkness that surrounds the international sex industry and the utter hopelessness that trafficking victims face.

It would be impossible to restate all the facts about human trafficking that the film presented, so we strongly encourage you to look into this issue for yourself. The organizations we mentioned above, as well as the Nefarious website, are full of information and resources to help you learn more about human trafficking. We would, however, like to emphasize some of the major points that the documentary brought up:

  • Human trafficking is big business. As one interview subject from the film phrased it, “If I sell a ‘key’ of cocaine, I sell it once. If I sell a woman’s body, I can sell her over and over for seven years, up to 20 – 30 times a night.” Treating the bodies of women as reusable commodities to be sold repeatedly provides traffickers and pimps the necessary incentive to keep their business hidden from the view of legitimate authorities in order to meet their insatiable greed.
  • Trafficking is cultural and political, as well as being deeply personal. I’ve often found that when trafficking comes up in conversation, the focus is almost always on the victim of trafficking. There is much discussion on appropriate rehabilitation/reintegration programs; organizations providing counseling, aftercare, skills training, and education to help victims of human trafficking adjust to a new life. But how much discussion, focus, and action are on the prevention of human trafficking? Nefarious presents an often-overlooked perspective of how corruption, government complicity and/or apathy, and familial/cultural norms can feed the human trafficking system.
  • There is hope. It’s easy for people to watch a documentary like Nefarious and think that nothing will ever change. We are here to say, along with the thousands of anti-trafficking initiatives across the globe, that there is much that can be done and that much is already being done. There is hope for the human trafficking victim – just as there is hope for the one doing the trafficking. Look around you; your community, your school, your local organizations, and yes, the Internet. There are fundraisers, anti-trafficking awareness races, aftercare programs, safe houses, donation drives, human trafficking reports, biographies of survivors, fair trade products that support former victims, and thousands of success stories that reaffirm the statement that there is hope in the face of this injustice.
Yobel Market is actively pursuing this hope for people across the globe. The question is – will you join us? Will you choose to be a part of that hope?

Written by Irene Jaw, Yobel Market Trip Coordinator