I attended a women's group meeting today where I learned that human trafficking of young girls plagues New Orleans because the city is a major port and tourism destination. I may have heard this before, but this is the first time the news really hit me as "of course this horrible fact must be true," and that realization rattled me. So, I came home and researched the problem.
I found that earlier this month, WWL TV interviewed two activists, one from Eden House and another from Free NOLA who help young girls and women escape the sex trade or work to draw attention to the problem of human trafficking. The young girls and women who need help often mistakenly think they are indebted to a pimp for some kindness offered, and have been bullied into the sex trade.
According to the WWL report, "the Super Bowl is actually estimated to be one of the largest human trafficking events in the world." The Clarion Herald (Catholic newspaper) reports:
"But the perception that the practice of selling girls for sex is restricted to Asia, Eastern Europe or Africa belies the overwhelming problem in the United States, which annually is highlighted by the spike in organized sex trafficking at major sporting events such as the Super Bowl, said Lederer, who participated in a daylong workshop hosted recently by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana."At my meeting today with a different organization, someone said that the city is seeing an increase in young black women going missing and that although black girls are not seen as the hot commodity in the human trafficking trade, that some of these missing girls are assumed to have become victims of human traffickers.
There aren't enough hours in one lifetime to address all the ills of this world, but today I thought rather than sitting around lamenting that these ills are too overwhelming and difficult to tackle, we'll always be better off trying our best to help solve a problem. We'll always be better off helping as many people as we can escape abuse, poverty, and illiteracy than we would be sitting on our hands doing nothing or just repeating horrible stories. People who have the means and the consciousness to help must find ways to substantively alter the negative narratives that produce suffering. So, I'm looking into how I can help these girls in some way; perhaps I'll make a donation of goods or money because I'm donating time elsewhere right now.
In the interview she says also that the Magdalene House program in Nashville rescued her. I think this is the same program I wrote about on BlogHer.com three years ago. She's helping Eden House in New Orleans now. Small world.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness month.