Sunday, August 01, 2010
Emancipation Day Meditation
This holiday weekend we celebrate the end of slavery, remember those who did not survive, and those that did, because they are our sacred ancestors. We pause to consider the many huge and small freedoms we enjoy today and raise our glasses and voices to them with gratitude. (I celebrate the freedom of speech most of all, promise myself to guard my right to express my differing opinions without fear of reprisals or worse.) And if we are brave, today we will think and speak of the people in the world who are still not free, maybe speak out for them, because they are us, and none of us are really free until all are free. I’m thinking about the estimated two million human beings, most of them women and girls, who will be trafficked around the world this year. Some say it will be as many as four million. According to UNIFEM, “trafficking involves the recruitment and transportation of persons, using deception, coercion and threats in order to place and keep them in a situation of forced labour, slavery or servitude. Persons are trafficked into a variety of sectors of the informal economy, including prostitution, domestic work, agriculture, the garment industry or street begging.” Poverty for women brought on by various forms of gender-based discrimination puts them (us) at high risk for trafficking, ie, slavery. UNIFEM reports that the main countries of origin are Central and South-Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and Asia, followed by West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. The most commonly reported countries of destination are in Western Europe, Asia and North America. It is Emancipation Day and we are freer than most, bright blessings be! But the struggle isn't over for so many women and girls of our generation. If we are free enough to celebrate today, sisters, lets do it in the name of those of us who are not.