Victoria Brownworth, one of my favorite columnists (even when I don't agree with her), has an important piece in the new print issue of Curve covering the problem of enslaved women and girls.
According to the United Nations and the British-based organization Anti-Slavery International, there are more people living in slavery today than at any other point in history. Almost 30 million adult slaves, including victims of human trafficking, debt bondage, and serfdom, are scattered across the globe. And the overwhelming majority of modern slaves - 75 percent - are women. According to the United Nations, 246 million children also live as slaves or in serfdom through unrestricted child labor, which the United Nations terms "virtual slavery." The majority of these children are girls whose parents have sold them into slavery or indentured servitude.
Brownworth's article goes on to cite cases of backbreaking child labor in quarries in India, chained textile laborers in Pakistan, Kenyan coffee workers poisoned by pesticides, and "virtual slaves" in agriculture in the United States. She also points out that the United States has refused to sign UN charters against the slavery of women and children, and has granted MFN status to countries that employ child labor.
One important anti-slavery organization is iAbolish. Go to the link to find out how you can provide humanitarian support to survivors of slavery and help raise international awareness (thanks, Andrej Mucic, for your Tour de Freedom event), and don't miss the chance to send our Secretary of State an e-mail urging her to do the right thing, and to "place the security of the Sudanese people at the top of your agenda, especially in this time of confusion and renewed violence in Sudan."
But wait! There's more. The Bush Administration has courageously invested some $400 billion, the lives of our fighting men and women, and a great deal of political capital in the liberation of Iraq from Saddam's Ba'athist regime. There's still much more to be done, though, and it's up to you and me to help. So here's my plug for Women for Women International, which was founded by an Iraqi woman named Zainab Salbi. There's information about what you can do to help Iraqi women. But it's not just about Iraq - Women for Women has programs in Afghanistan, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Colombia, DR Congo, Kosovo, Nigeria, and Rwanda.
Finally, one more antislavery organization is Free the Slaves, which works in partnership with Anti-Slavery International to pressure governments on the problem of slavery.
I know there's going to be somebody out there whining that "I can't support this or that organization because they're endorsed by right/left -wing nutjobs, and I'm a left/right -wing nutjob." Get over it. This is everybody's problem. Now go do something.