In 2014 the LWV US adopted a position on human trafficking, a horrific problem worldwide.
In accordance with principles expressed in the LWVUS position Leagues can now advocate on the state and federal level for better laws, better enforcement of existing laws, increased awareness, and increased support for victims of trafficking.
Coffee For Freedom: UNH alums working to combat human trafficking
It's hard to fight an industry estimated to be worth $150 billion. Especially when it exists underground. There are no headquarters to picket, no CEOs to run full-page newspaper ads against. Instead, you have to employ the water-on-the-rock philosophy: after it's been dripped on long enough, the rock will eventually break.
The Freedom Café, a by-donation coffee shop on Mill Road whose sole purpose is to fight human trafficking wants to be that water. Founded by UNH alumni in early 2013, the Freedom Café offers an assortment of fair trade coffees and teas. There is no set charge; people pay what they want. The first dollar goes toward the cost of supplies. The rest is given to groups like Stop the Traffic and Love146 (named for a young girl enslaved in a brothel in Southeast Asia who was known by a number + 146- instead of her name) to help combat human trafficking around the world.
"In a way, human trafficking is a bad term," says Michael D'Angelo, one of the café's co-founders and coordinator of its board of directors. "It's slavery. Forced labor. Sexual exploitation. Coercion. It's people losing their humanity, having their rights violated for money. And it's happening every day."
The World Health Organization and the US State Department estimate that more than 20 million people worldwide are victims of forced labor. Annual profits may top $150 billion. Reports from the International Labor Organization state that contemporary slavery includes migrant workers, child soldiers, debt-bonded domestics and women and children sold into the sex trade.
Students and UNH faculty are also getting involved. Professor Tim Barretto's community leadership class has been helping out with marketing. "We're hoping to help promote awareness of the café, both its existence and its purpose," Barretto says. "The work the Freedom Café is doing should be important to anyone who values justice and security for those people in the world + many of them children- who are the poorest, the most vulnerable and the most a risk of being exploited."
Adds Howell, " Before I started here, I knew very little about the subject of human trafficking. I knew there were such things a s sex tourism and wage slavery but I had not idea the extent to which they existed."
That kind of new knowledge is what the Freedom Café is striving to spread. "This space is trying to break the surface of the issue. We're trying to educate people," says D'Angelo. "Hopefully people walk away with knowledge about human trafficking. The main thing we can to is educate. The goal is to get people to ask `how can I make a difference?"
Guest speaker retired Reverend Phyllis Evelyn spoke at the League event in New London NH on Oct. 1, 2014. She recommended an excellent book by Harvard Professor Siddhartha Kara (with whom she studied) on the economics behind human trafficking, as it tells the story of "why." Title is SEX TRAFFICKING: INSIDE THE BUSINESS OF MODERN SLAVERY. Publisher is Caravan, and date is 2009. The same author also has a newer book out on a similar topic, BONDED LABOR: TACKLING THE SYSTEM OF SLAVERY IN SOUTH ASIA.
Lois Kenna Tripodi is a former NH legislator who spoke at a League event in Bow on Oct. 15, 2014. Her book is titled "Two Sisters Lost" and is available in bookstores.
As adopted at the LWVUS 2014 National Convention
The League of Women Voters opposes all forms of domestic and international human trafficking of adults and children, including sex trafficking and labor trafficking. We consider human trafficking to be a form of modern day slavery and believe that every measure should be taken and every effort should be made through legislation and changes in public policy to prevent human trafficking. Prosecution and penalization of traffickers and abusers should be established, and existing laws should be strictly enforced. Extensive essential services for victims should be applied where needed. Education and awareness programs on human trafficking should be established in our communities and in our schools.