Yes, you read that correctly…Girls for sale, some as young as the age of 2. For what reason you might ask ? The commercial sexual exploitation for financial profit. There are more enslaved people in the world today than were taken from Africa over the 4 centuries of the Trans- Atlantic slave trade combined, Over 30 million people. The forcible exploitation of humans for profit is not only alive and well, it is thriving. This 21st century incarnation of slavery that I speak of, is that of human sex trafficking. Sex Trafficking is a horrendous and insidious crime against humanity. It is a 40 billion dollar illegal industry, the third largest after drugs and arms trafficking. An estimated 8 to 10 million of our planets most vulnerable young women and children (girls and boys) are enslaved for sex at any given time, with nearly a million of whom are trafficked across international borders each year. The average age of these children is 12 to 14, but there have been many reports of children as young as 2 years old. The life expectancy of a victim after they have been trafficked is 7 YEARS…The going rate to buy a girl is $90. These victims are lured into sex trafficking by traffickers due to natural disaster, promise of a job or better life, false marriage proposals, being sold by parents due to extreme poverty and debt, or simply kidnapped. These sex traffickers condition their victims through rape, gang rape, torture, physical abuse, starvation, confinement, and forced drug use, among many other unspeakable means, in the most deplorable of conditions..
Freedom is something that we all take for granted . Simply walking out into the sunshine to take in the suns rays and breathe in the fresh air. To speak your mind, to have the right to voice your opinnion, observe your own beliefs and to practice them. Most certainly the right to give your body to whom you choose and when.
We have 30 basic undeniable human rights according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, created by the United Nations in 1948 to provide a global understanding of how to treat humans:
- We are all free and equal. We are all born free. We all have our own thoughts and ideas. We should all be treated in the same way.
- Don’t discriminate. These rights belong to everybody, whatever our differences.
- The right to life.We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety.
- No slavery – past and present. Nobody has any right to make us a slave. We cannot make anyone our slave.
- No Torture. Nobody has any right to hurt us or to torture us.
- We all have the same right to use the law. I am a person just like you!
- We are all protected by the law. The law is the same for everyone. It must treat us all fairly.
- Fair treatment by fair courts.We can all ask for the law to help us when we are not treated fairly.
- No unfair detainment. Nobody has the right to put us in prison without a good reason and keep us there, or to send us away from our country.
- The right to trial. If we are put on trial this should be in public. The people who try us should not let anyone tell them what to do.
- Innocent until proven guilty. Nobody should be blamed for doing something until it is proven. When people say we did a bad thing we have the right to show it is not true.
- The right to privacy. Nobody should try to harm our good name. Nobody has the right to come into our home, open our letters or bother us or our family without a good reason.
- Freedom to move. We all have the right to go where we want in our own country and to travel as we wish.
- The right to asylum. If we are frightened of being badly treated in our own country, we all have the right to run away to another country to be safe.
- The right to a nationality. We all have the right to belong to a country.
- Marriage and family. Every grown-up has the right to marry and have a family if they want to. Men and women have the same rights when they are married, and when they are separated.
- Your own things. Everyone has the right to own things or share them. Nobody should take our things from us without a good reason.
- Freedom of thought. We all have the right to believe in what we want to believe, to have a religion, or to change it if we want.
- Free to say what you want. We all have the right to make up our own minds, to think what we like, to say what we think, and to share our ideas with other people.
- Meet where you like. We all have the right to meet our friends and to work together in peace to defend our rights. Nobody can make us join a group if we don’t want to.
- The right to democracy. We all have the right to take part in the government of our country. Every grown-up should be allowed to choose their own leaders.
- The right to social security. We all have the right to affordable housing, medicine, education, and child care, enough money to live on and medical help if we are ill or old.
- Workers’ rights. Every grown-up has the right to do a job, to a fair wage for their work, and to join a trade union.
- The right to play. We all have the right to rest from work and to relax.
- A bed and some food. We all have the right to a good life. Mothers and children, people who are old, unemployed or disabled, and all people have the right to be cared for.
- The right to education. Education is a right. Primary school should be free. We should learn about the United Nations and how to get on with others. Our parents can choose what we learn.
- Culture and copyright. Copyright is a special law that protects one’s own artistic creations and writings; others cannot make copies without permission. We all have the right to our own way of life and to enjoy the good things that “art,” science and learning bring.
- A free and fair world. There must be proper order so we can all enjoy rights and freedoms in our own country and all over the world.
- Our responsibilities. We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms.
- Nobody can take away these rights and freedoms from us.
When you are trafficked, you are a slave, each and every one of these 30 basic human rights are categorically non existant and denied to them.
I sit here now writing and reflecting on my involvement in Anti Trafficking on my flight back from India. This is my 6th trip in as many years. I am very humbled and honored to say that thru my passion and dedication, I now sit on the board of a 501c3 charity Puresa Humanitarian, an organization founded by Giselle Meza who herself is a trafficking survivor. The work that she does is nothing short of miraculous. She has given me the opportunity to serve in a meaningful and authentic way.
Feb 7th-Day 1-Giselle and the Puresa team arrive to Kolkata on day one to meet with an amazing organization called Kolkata Sanved-(see prior blogs) Kolkata Sanved has had great success using Dance Movement Therapy DMT as a modality to heal, empower and rehabilitate survivors of sex trafficking and violence. Several of our little girls who are now coming into young adulthood, and have been in our home for some time are becoming re-traumatized, having vivid memories reliving the violence that was perpetrated on them as children. We sit with the director Sohini and her team to collaborate and bring the program to our home as we know it would be of great benefit to the girls, seeing the success they have had with their program. We hope that this can come to fruition. More about their Dance for Revolution in a later post.
From there we head out to a remote slum village along the railroad tracks where several weeks prior, Puresa Humanitarian rescued a beautiful young handicapped girl living with her mom, we will call her Sita. Sita lost her leg due to a wound that was never properly treated. Her mom although caring and loving, cannot give supervision as she must clean homes to provide meager amounts of food and a roof over their heads. This left Sita vulnerable to any man or trafficker passing through the railroad. Her mom asked if we would take Sita. She is safe and thriving at our home. We are looking into getting her a prosthetic leg.
Sita’s mother’s homeThe inside, though small, so clean. Sita’s mom is so hospitable and kind. She offers us sweets, the only place to sit is the bed or the floor.Sita’s mom and our team member Sima preparing snacks for usThe bridge that Sita had to traverse in order to go to the bathroom in the field.Sita’s momSita’s mom greets us on the streetThe view from Sita’s bed to the outside world.
Sita’s mom informs us that her other daughter has been missing (assumed dead and no one cares because she is a women) and that her two grandchildren (Sita’s cousins) had been locked up in a makeshift shack, while the father disappeared for days on end. On the grandmothers request our team broke thru the shackles on the doors and the sisters are now safe with us, and their cousin Sita.The outside of the makeshift shack Sita’s cousins were held inInsideThe girls were kept behind these shackled doors It is unimaginable that children were locked behind these doors. Tears flow every time.
As the villagers become familiar with our community outreach and prevention, they begin to realize how vulnerable their children and at risk they are to being trafficked, another request comes from a mom in that village to take her two daughters.
The parents sign papers and The sisters left with us that day, and are now in our safe home. I will tell you in no uncertain terms, that had Puresa Humanitarian not brought these little girls out of that railway slum, they would have fallen prey to the hands of traffickers.
Now, at Puresa Humanitarian, they will have access to health care, spiritual and psychological counseling, education, jobs skills training and so much more. They now have the potential to become the future scholors, doctors, educators,and womens rights advocates. Day 1 was incredible. My heart is overflowing.
The pediatrician examining the sisters at the home. Little fever and cough, but all is well.
Ancient Indian culture, the philosophy and tradition of Yoga has enriched my life in unimaginable ways, as it has millions of others in the yoga community. The tradition by in large does exist there, To me… it is inconceivable that this evil lurks in our world today… We, as a collective, have the ability to enact substantial and sustainable change in India, leaving a legacy there, helping to rehabilitate an estimated one million women and children who have been sold into sex slavery, to lead a healthy and normal life. Please join me in my visit to India in 2019. It is indeed an honor to stand side by side with these special women and children and bear witness to our common humanity.
I will write about the remaing days of my trip in the coming days.
Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu
May All Beings Be Happy and Free
Girls Are Not For Sale
ABOLISH 21ST CENTURY SLAVERY
if you would like to donate to Puresa Humanitarian- http://www.puresa.org
If you would like to purchase product made by survivors to be self sustainable www.gisellemezaproducts.com
if you would like to purchase a hand made mala with all proceeds going toward rescue and rehabilitation of human trafficking-https://www.karmicjewelsbynadine.com
if you would like to donate/sponsor or participate in our annual yoga fundraising initiative please visit