GIFTBOX: A CALL FOR LOCAL ADVOCATES TO HELP ELIMINATE HUMAN TRAFFICKING

All too often with the advent of a major sports event comes the practice of human trafficking. In the United States, there is an estimate of 200 – 300,000 young persons who are being trafficked within their own country at any given time. This trafficking can take the form of slave labor or commercial sex exploitation.

Mary Jo GiftBox articleIn preparation for the US Super Bowl which was to take place in New Jersey, the Working Group on Girls activists began working with the state attorney general in an effort to create education and capacity building for law enforcement personnel and hotel managers. They also sought to educate the general public. To do this, they contacted anti-trafficking advocates who had worked to prepare for the London Olympics.  The Londoners shared the educational “gift box”, which when closed attracted the attention of persons passing through Union Square; when it was open it featured information materials and groups such as Girls Be Heard, pictured at the left. Dramatically the young women told the stories of four trafficked girls, their sufferings and feelings as survivors. During the Super Bowl, among other rescues, 16 young people who had gone missing from various parts of the US were discovered and were the recipients of psychological and social services; they are now back with their loved ones. The next anti-trafficking efforts by the Working Group on Girls and their affiliates will take place in Brazil at the time of the World Cup.

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