For context, I am a poet, one who’s committed to using my pen as a shovel to unearth those things that make us human. While there is much to celebrate about ourselves as humans, our humanity is tainted with undeniable ugliness, some of which I explore in my recently published collection – “thread, this wordweaver must!” Human trafficking is one of such.
I assume that two primary questions that warrant answers before I continue are:
1. What is human trafficking?
2. Why is it an important issue to address?
First, let’s define what human trafficking is.
According to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (also known as the Palermo Protocols), human trafficking is defined as:
“The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring 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.” (ExodusCry.com)
As it will become evident, the focus of this write-up will be on sex trafficking, which, as defined by the U.S Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act is characterized by the sexual exploitation of the victim (through force, fraud or coercion) for the financial gain of another.
What makes this an important issue to address is of course the fact that humans – mostly women and children* – are subjected to conditions that threaten their safety and quality of life on a daily basis, without an opportunity for escape. And when escape (though difficult and dangerous) or rescue does happen, integration into the society is a challenge due to “the shame, stigma, threat of retribution, and trauma experienced during enslavement.” (EndSlaveryNow.org)
With what has been said so far, I do not believe that there is a need to convince you any further that this is indeed a problem that needs to be addressed. As I talk about in the poem, Pork chop, though, human trafficking is often thought to be something that happens there (wherever “there” may be, as long as it’s somewhere else other than where we are). However, statistics would say otherwise. For the past seven years now, I have called Houston, Texas home. Houston is the fourth most populous city in the United States, and based on the field assessment of domestic minor sex trafficking conducted by the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition in 2011, is also one of the nation’s largest human trafficking hub. This is too say, that atrocities like this happen not too far away from our backyards. That this can (and does) happen right under our noses makes it necessary to educate ourselves about how we can help.
Thankfully, there are countless organizations, a few of which are provided at the end of the article, that we can support who are committed to ending this form of slavery. We all have a part to play.
As I mention in the poem which you can read at the end of this write-up, there are parts of me that must be confronted, especially the part of me that sees no difference between a girl and the piece of meat on my plate and also, highlighted is the need for me to assess the ways I might be a contribution to the problem, one of which, implicitly is the consumption of pornography. As with anything, there are arguments for and against suggesting a link between the two, but there’s overwhelming evidence that most girls who find themselves as victims of trafficking end up as unwilling objects for the pleasure of consumers like myself (and perhaps you), in the form of pornography and/or prostitution. There’s still more about this that I need to educate myself about, and there’s work to do, on a personal level and on a broader level as well.
To conclude, poems are more than just fancy words to me, and I don’t write them just because. I write poems because there are issues like these that need to be addressed, first starting with myself, after which I can then extend an invitation to others to join in addressing those issues in and with themselves, and the world at large.
Consider this your own invitation.
About the author: Ayokunle Falomo is a : Nigerian. poet – whose pen is a shovel to unearth those things that make us human. Lover of almonds. the color blue. grapes. conversations. and turkey bacon. TEDx speaker. Author of the collection of poems titled “thread, this wordweaver must!“. A collection of poems you should definitely have in your book collections. He enjoys walking and talking to himself. which he does…a lot. Dreamer. American. He blogs at of Dreams and Deeds, a blog for dreamers who do.
NOTES FROM AYO:
*As recently posted by A21 (an organization I closely follow who’s devoted to abolishing this form of injustice that’s still a problem in the 21st century) on their Facebook page, “50% of human trafficking victims are MINORS,” based on 2010’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.
You can check these links…
EndSlaveryNow.org. Sex Trafficking. Accessed October 4th, 2014
ExodusCry.com. What is Human Trafficking? Accessed October 4th, 2014
Gilkerson, Luke (2014). Porn & the demand for Sex Trafficking (10 Eye-Opening Stats). Accessed October 4th, 2014.
Rapid Field Assessment of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking in Harris and Galveston Counties, Texas (2011). http://www.houstonrr.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Domestic-Minor-Sex-Trafficking-Field- Assessment-Harris-and-Galveston-Cty.pdf Accessed October 4th, 2014.
Thanks for participating Ayo and thanks for reading guys! Apologies for the late post. Have a good weekend.2