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Suddenly… Human Trafficking

Update: 10/01/12 A powerful collection of modern day slavery photographs published in the Atlantic this week.  Photographed by Lisa Kristine. It turns out Lisa also has a Ted talk. Some things are so horrible you can hardly bring yourself to learn more about them. At the very least, we can make a donation. Free The Slaves!

Yesterday, driving in to work I listened to this talk and was surprised I didn’t know more.

Then today on a show I like ThisWeekInTwitter,  guest Aaron Cohen, author of ‘Slave Hunter’ really got my dander up. Throwing the phrase ‘the children’ around like a Fox News anchor, calling Amsterdam a failure, and talking about the ‘tools’ (i.e. laws) he and like minded activists need in order to go in and shut down these slave trade operations. Another part of his argument that really rankled me was his statement that ‘Craigslist receives a third of its earnings from sex postings’, as though this was something Craigslist was doing. Why pick on Craigslist? Can we not assume that a large portion of any classified ad publisher’s income derives from sex related ads? (Here’s the recent NY Times article about Craigslist and sex related ads Aaron was probably thinking of). But just because I didn’t like the way Aaron framed his argument didn’t mean he doesn’t have valid points. Certainly it made me realize I have a lot to learn.

So then I went back to Ted and found this…

About Amsterdam I found various articles discussing changes being made, like raising the age to 21 and requiring prostitutes to be licensed. Also this:

Anti-slavery campaigner and labour party city councillor Lodewijk Asscher already raised the issue in February. This week he submitted a detailed report , noting that between 50 and 90 per cent of all the prostitutes working in Amsterdam’s inner-city were found to be working there against their will – coerced and forced by international criminal gangs.

These are such messy issues. You want to think that somewhere, drugs and prostitution are being handled intelligently and effectively. If not Amsterdam, where? I will try to follow-up on the Amsterdam situation. But in the meantime I obviously have a lot of reading to do around the issue of human trafficking. How can there be 27,000,000 people caught up in slavery and I hardly know the first thing about it?

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