By Edith Morgan
It pays to speak to your neighbors, to find out what concerns them and what they do about it So it happened that I became acquainted with Robin Currie, who lives just three blocks from me. And besides her many activities as a mother, business woman, Crime Watch co-chair, and contributor to many local causes, she is passionate about a topic on which so many of us know so little.
Like many of us out there, I thought that slavery was totally wiped out here – at last- and that we could now focus on other problems. But it seems it has reared its ugly head, in other forms, notably human trafficking, and human smuggling.
I sat down recently with Robin in my dining room, and she poured out so much information about her passion on the issue of human trafficking that I did not know, and to my surprise, we may have a problem here in Worcester also. As regional director of the “Not For Sale” organization , she has been working hard for two years to raise awareness of the problem (as William Wilberforce said:”You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you did not know”).
January 11 was “National Human Trafficking Day”. To raise awareness, Robin has amassed a library of materials on the subject, including books and movies, which are available at 292 Lincoln Street (the offices of Currie Management Consultants) She will lend these out to persons or groups wanting to get better informed, and to be able to spot the signs of such activity.
I was shocked to hear Robin say that in the U.S. 70% of trafficked children are In the foster care system.…. Nevertheless, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Annual report “Trafficking in Persons (TIP)” nations are rated from 1 to 3, 1 being the best and 3 the worst. At present the U.S. has a “1” rating, while Southeast Asia is at 3. Russia has just been downgraded… Most of the trafficked persons are “sex” workers and migrant laborers – under-age, underpaid, underreported, separated from family and support , and undocumented. Their stories are truly heartbreaking, but often out of our sights, as their captors and users keep them virtual prisoners, often right under the noses of those who should be protecting them.
For those of us who share Robin’s concerns, there is much material on-line. The U.S. government has a hotline to report suspicious activity 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423) 0r www.dhs.gov/.humantrafficking. I would also imagine that calling our own police department to report suspicious activity would result in help for the victims.
Better yet, watch for flyers and announcements about the “ Not for sale” activities and keep your eyes open: if you suspect a young person is the victim of trafficking (forced into sexual or other activities , has restricted movement, harmed or deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care or other life necessities, and kept from socializing , working without pay, etc) report such abuse. WE all are the eyes and ears of our communities and have a duty to protect the children.