AFF Advocacy for Refugee Freedom

During January 2011, Susie Harvil began the Advocates for Freedom (AFF) in Gulfport. Since then the organization has rescued 105 victims off the coast of Mississippi, The Sun Herald Reports.

“One in five girls and one in ten boys are abused every day,” Harvill said. “Over two-thirds of all children that go missing are never reported.”

AFF works with people in law enforcement, business, government, education, medicine, media and arts, nonprofits, and faith communities in order to end this form of modern slavery. To begin, they focus on finding the victim both shelter and protection.

Victims of this form of slavery are young children, teenagers, men and women. They are subjected to force, fraud, coercion, and sexual exploitation. These people are also forced into labor, drug dealing and even arms dealing which has become the second largest criminal industry in the world, as well as the fastest growing.

The U.S. Department of State published results that 1 million children are exploited yearly. Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. every year, despite the fact that in October of 2000 the Trafficking Victims Protection Act made human trafficking a federal crime.

According to UNICEF, 5.5 million children are victims of trafficking and it generates an estimated $32 billion in yearly profits worldwide.

AFF has given presentations at city council meetings across the Coast during January in order to raise awareness. Additionally, a curriculum was developed for law enforcement and students.

AFF works to get children out of abusive situations. They are able to help the victims obtain counseling and the Department of Human Services places children in the news.

Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist who promotes anti-trafficking issues, wrote in 2010, “Human trafficking tends to get ignored.”

Four years later however, it is being noticed. Anti-trafficking policies have been prominently featured on the Obama administration’s human rights agenda and an entire international advocacy community has emerged to combat the abuse. Partnership for Freedom for example, is a U.S.-based public-private partnership that conveys the diversity of sex-trafficking initiatives. Organizations like the Women’s Consortium of Nigeria are able to offer female trafficking survivors comprehensive support.

Despite the heightened public attention, the dividends of anti-trafficking advocacy remain unclear. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime explains that the international agency that monitors global trafficking trends has shown an increase in the number of countries criminalizing trafficking, but few have followed through with convictions.

Lindsey Lerner

Sources: The Week, Sun Herald
Photo: Busted Grid