By: Abbey Clark, Regular Contributor
I am someone with a lot of ideas: I am a writer. I store my ideas in my brain, on a digital sticky note on my computer, scraps of paper in my car, scribbles in a beat up notebook, and sometimes on the notes section of my iPhone. An idea for a piece has been haunting me for a while now. Perhaps it’s because the topic is about something that most people don’t like to read about, let alone discuss. Indulge me though, and please keep reading.
How much is a human life worth? I recently watched a short documentary by the 1Real campaign about sex trafficking in Brazil. I had no idea that incidence of young women being paid for a sordid percentage of what their pimp makes skyrockets with major international sporting events. According to an article on RYOT: “CBS News reports that child exploitation increased by 30 to 40 percent during the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, which took place in Germany and South Africa” respectively, and “16 juveniles were rescued from being forced into prostitution at the 2014 Super Bowl.” Before I go any further, I’d like to state that this article is not written to shame organizations such as the NFL or FIFA, nor am I declaring that child prostitution is exclusive to the beautiful country of Brazil, or that it only occurs during these events. I am sharing this information with you in an effort to spread awareness, and because it lit a fire within me to understand a flawed world.
According to a former Brazilian pimp in the documentary, he would buy young girls for a price of $5,000-10,000 from their parents. Most times pimps convince the families, who are surrounded by crime and poverty, that this is a great opportunity for their young daughter to have a better life. Many child prostitutes are acquired from third-world slums where people are dying of starvation and almost any loose pocket change sounds like a better life. Pimps visit Brazilian slums dressed in designer clothes to flash a façade of glamour, and to persuade young, innocent, attractive girls that this is their way out. The high frequencies of young women worldwide that are sold by their parents into the sex trade is staggering. Some young women even volunteer themselves to a life of prostitution. You may blame this on a lack of education, awareness, a complete absence of hope; and maybe it’s a deadly combination of the three. Either way, the problem is multifaceted: these young women sell their bodies, but they are also often forced by their clients to take illegal substances and drink alcohol. They are also the victims of violence, and in extreme cases, unreported murder.
Already you’re probably shying away from reading the rest of this piece, but like anything: if no one reads about it, talks about it, or does anything about it, the situation will remain the same. So what is being done about it? I was recently walking around an airport in New York City where I saw a captivating ad for a campaign against sex trafficking titled The Blue Campaign. I was captivated by it’s design and placement. I couldn’t stop thinking of how smart it was to promote the Department of Homeland Security’s social marketing campaign in an international airport. This was the push I needed to write this piece and throw out the old napkin with the words “FIFA, Brazil, 1Real, and Sex Trafficking” written on it: we live in a world where child prostitution is so chronic that we need social marketers to keep it on our radar. Like I said, I’m simply trying to understand the world we live in a bit better.
So yes, I took a risk and wrote about something may be a little less desirable to read about and to talk about, but hopefully you are inspired. The fact that young girls are being stripped and deprived of a normal childhood is not uplifting and is disturbing to say the least, but take solace in the fact that you can be a catalyst for change. There are many campaigns like The Blue Campaign, and non-profit organizations such as LOVE146 and Daughters Rising that aim to combat this social issue through empowerment and education. However, change also begins with you, and others like you: watching the world cup at a local bar, reading the news, madly scribbling words down on a scrap piece of paper that shouldn’t have any relevancy with one another, or even walking through arrival and departure terminals in a New York City airport. I’m a writer, but I’m also a dreamer for a better world. Man or woman, writer or not, this is my plea for you to join a human movement to stop putting a price on human life.
Getting involved in local or global community and social issues is equal parts brave, beautiful, and bold.
- Don't be afraid to own your part and impact as a citizen of the world. Identify a cause, an issue, or a problem that resonates with you on some level; find out who is doing the best work in this area and get involved, or BE the spark that incites change and start your own group or organization to address this issue.
Abbey recently graduated from Boston College where she received bachelors degrees in both English and Human Development. She is a certified yoga instructor, and a strong believer in the daily morning cup of coffee. She is obsessed with all things marketing and social, and has loved creative writing as long as she can remember. She loves shoes, vegan baking, traveling, and trying new things. She is an advocate of healthy living, real beauty, and is so proud to be part of such a beautiful organization that is changing the world for women and girls!
image via brinebooks.com