This is a copy of Yvonne’s written speech (without deviations) given at the Commission on the Status of Women, March 13, 2014 at the United Nations.
“Thank you Lynn Walsh and Universal Peace Federation for extending this invitation for me to be on this most important panel. I am indeed honored to be a part of engaging in, what to me is one of the most valuable conversations of this generation — Methods to Educate the Public and Solutions to Stop Human Trafficking. I’m going to address the last part of this first. The vision of Trafficking In America Task Force is “To help eliminate the human trafficking of people by providing a culture free of sexual exploitation and slavery, where people know their own intrinsic value.” We gave ourselves a proactive commission that would direct us to work to provide a culture free of exploitation. And, with that in the forefront of our minds, everything we do is now directed at addressing cultural issues that are fueling modern slavery; those root causes that are causing this crime to grow. We can rescue all day long but if we do not make changes in our lives and in our cultures we will never end this, because human trafficking is really the fruit of generations of other social issues not being dealt with. So how do we begin? We must examine this issue like we never have before by asking the questions “why” and “what” before we can move into creating real Methods and Solutions. Some questions might be . . .
- Why are untold millions of men willing to purchase other humans, including children, to gratify their unbridled passions?
- What is fueling this basic human instinct and turned it into such a barbaric evil against one another?
- Why are we as consumers willing to buy more and more product as if there were no tomorrow, even after we know that those products are made with slave labor including children?
- What has caused this insatiable thirst for commodities and material possessions?
- Why are families willing to sell their children for money?
- What has caused this type of poverty in some parts of the world?
- Why are corporations thirsting for more and more profits on the backs of those that create the product that give them their profits?
- What will it take to engage these mega millionaires and billionaires to return to society some of the financial resources they have been given to help those in need?
When we honestly look at the facts that are contained in the answers to “Why” and “What”, we will then be faced with a new challenge in protecting the rights of humanity — we must delineate between what is healthy and what is not healthy in order to protect us from our own selves. And we must be courageous enough to implement those changes laying down our own rights for the benefit of others. Time moves in the swing of a pendulum and always comes back to the center. When we address issues that arise in our cultures we traditionally move with the right or the left swing of that pendulum until change occurs. When we began the “women’s liberation movement” across the world, our hearts were in the right place, however, we made a grave mistake. We left the men out of that discussion. So for 50 years the divide has grown between men and women rather than to draw us closer in our understanding of how to mutually respect and work with one another. It became a “men are bad” and “women are good” discussion.
Hence, I believe, we are seeing a great resentment and hatred in our societies as a result. We failed to place an emphasis on the value of all humanity while we were working to liberate the female aspect of the human race. So, we can’t continue to talk about having a no tolerance level for violence against women if we don’t include in that conversation violence in the heart of the perpetrators and bring healing to us all. If we are going to stop human trafficking it will not be because we have passed more legislation, arrested and locked up the pimps and Johns, although this is a necessary aspect of the work, however, the cycle will simply continue because all we are doing is writing legislation and passing laws that sound good and are simply saying what is and what is not acceptable behavior. We have to find a way to look into the heart of the vilest among us and see the beauty within in effort to bring restorative justice, as opposed to traditional legalistic remedies. When our cultures feed on sex and violence as entertainment we are experiencing the last element of self destruction to our countries. And unfortunately, America’s entertainment industry has fueled a great deal of this around the world from movies to music to pornography – and in many ways these are the real traffickers — all of these elements combined have raped our souls in the same manner that traffickers rape their victims (Spontaneous comment, “As an American I deeply apologize for this).
This should be at the forefront of our Methods to educate the public. An overview of our cultures for the past 50 years and how mass media has affected crime and violence must be included in this education as one of the root causes to our decline – -the fruit being human trafficking. Regarding Labor Trafficking, there are over 130 products in the world today that we can stop using and therefore, in that measure alone, we can end a lot of the child trafficking that is occurring simply to meet our need for stuff and by calling corporations accountable for their methods of producing product. One excellent example of what is working in the agricultural industry is that of the Coalition of Imokolee Workers in South, Florida. The Fair Food Program that they implemented are standards backed by the market consequences established in the CIW’s Fair Food Agreements, in which participating buyers commit to buy Florida tomatoes only from growers in good standing with the FFP, and to cease purchases from growers who fail or refuse to comply with the Program. The FFP has been called “a brilliant model” and “one of the great human rights success stories of our day” in a Washington Post op-ed. 95% of Florida Corporations who purchase tomatoes have signed on to the FFP. That is progress. So “Methods to Educate the Public” are the easy part once we discover why it is happening and how we can stop it. Some of those methods are:
- NEST – National Educators to Stop Trafficking, a new on-line source for education in the schools;
- Town Meetings;
- Press Conferences;
- Training for Law Enforcement;
- Community awards events honoring people working in anti-human trafficking always draws attention about social issues;
- And we can’t underestimate the power of Video’s and PSA’s that need to be distributed in our media outlets.
But in the end, it all boils down to this — Do we have the courage to make changes in our lives that are fueling human trafficking? And if not, are we willing to ask God to give us the ability to make those changes? I challenge everyone to make decisions for one year without thought of profit and loss. Challenge yourselves to forget that money exists and live as if it does not.