Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Here are some facts that shed light on the context our girls live in:
- * 15% of our girls have openly shared their experiences of sexual exploitation.
- * Liberia, in particular, is considered a major source, transit, and destination country for young women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking, according to the US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report.
- *The report is based on the Trafficking Victims Prosecution Act (TVPA), which highlights what the United States considers basic protections of victims and minimum prosecution of perpetrators. Based on this legislation, the US gives every country a ranking:
- * Tier 1: Meets minimum TVPA standards
- * Tier 2: Do not fully comply, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves in line with standards
- * Tier 2 Watch List:Same as above, but with the following caveats:
- -The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing;
- -There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year;
- -The determination that a country is making progress is based on commitments to improve over the next year
- * Tier 3: Do not comply, do not make significant efforts to do so.
- * In 2011, Liberia DROPPED to Tier 2 Watch List and is still there today.
- * The biggest issue with trafficking in Liberia is the prosecution. In 2005, Liberia passed an Act to Ban Trafficking in Persons. UNTIL 2013, the number of persecutions was a big ol’ ZERO. This was true for 8 years.
- * In 2013, that number increased to ONE. There were a few other arrests made, according to various AllAfrica.com stories, but those cases never made it through the justice system, in many cases because the convicted persons “escaped” (likely bribed their captors).
AllAfrica.com recently wrote an article about the FIRST person convicted of human trafficking in Liberia. Our founder, Katie, wanted YOU to hear her response:
Dear More Than Me Family,
I just read the “All Africa” story about child slavery in Liberia. I’m angry. It’s just not okay the way these young children are being treated. I don’t need to read about it in the news because I know these children. Many of them were our girls’ stories before they came to the Academy. Princess, who at 8, lived with her Grandma, but had a full-time job selling water in the pouring rain or under the beating hot sun. She had never gone to school, but now she’s enrolled in the MTM Academy. Or Musu, who at age 6 sold peanuts from the top of her head in the slums wearing her broken flip flops. She followed me and hid every time I’d look back at her. Now Musu is also enrolled in the Academy. For our 120 girls, it’s not just school. The Academy is the only safe place they have and they don’t ever want to go home.
Every single day other children walk past and stare through our gates. They have buckets or wheelbarrows of used clothes and it breaks everything in me, I wonder what they think. I wonder how they feel. Sometimes I go out and talk to them and kiss them and play with them. Other times, I try as hard as I can to ignore them. The needs inside our gates are already overwhelming. I think of Mother Teresa. She couldn’t physically help all the time, but she loved. I try to too; I want to be that.
No young child, Liberian, American, Pink, Green or Yellow should be hungry on the street working. I’m the first to admit I don’t have all the answers, but I would give my life for these children a million times over. I don’t get it. I want to scream, but since that doesn’t really do anything, may our work with MTM scream to the world. There is something so much bigger than just ourselves, and may its impact echo throughout the world.