Partners in Saving Children from Sexual and Labor Exploitation
Dottie Laster, Executive Director of Million Kids
When Ms. Dottie Laster, host of the radio show Trafficked invited YHRI to speak on her show recently, President Mary Shuttleworth readily accepted. Ms. Laster is a noted expert on human trafficking and executive director of Million Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children.
Like Laster, Dr. Shuttleworth, Founder of Youth for Human Rights International, sees education as the ultimate solution to the problem of human trafficking. “It is vital that we raise awareness about this inhuman profiteering around the world,” Dr. Shuttleworth said during the radio interview.
Dr. Shuttleworth emphasized education as the long-term solution to ending human rights violations. “When the word is out there and more and more good people say ‘not in my lifetime’ and ‘this is not going to happen on my watch,’ that is when we will finally see an end to this and many other human rights violations.”
Laster pointed out that raising awareness and getting others willing to take effective measures to end trafficking requires the agreement of many people. “It's a social effort, and you can't do it alone. That’s where responsibility comes in,” she said.
According to UNICEF, human trafficking now ranks as one of the largest and fastest growing criminal industries in the world. Every 26 seconds another child is forced into this modern-day slavery, where they are exploited for commercial sex or forced labor. These children are traded like merchandise by traffickers who operate at local and international levels.
One recent incident that brought that fact home occurred in mid-September of this year. Laster was hosting her internet radio show when she received a message from a teenage girl in the United States. The girl said that she had been held captive for more than two years by a man who forced her to dance in a strip club and to perform sexual acts both with him and in pornographic films. The details of the girl’s story were verified through a private investigator and Laster and her team went into action. They rescued the young woman and took her to a safe place where she could be cared for.
That human trafficking stories such as this could happen in the US might be shocking to some who think this type of situation doesn’t occur in developed nations.
However, the story came as no surprise to Laster, who is certified by the Department of Justice to train law enforcement officers on human trafficking prevention and conducts seminars to educate corporate executives, employees and business owners as well.
“These situations exist all over the world,” says Laster. “Trafficking involves compelled labor or service. You probably automatically think of forced prostitution, but there are many other instances as well. People are trafficked for work in restaurants, hotel housekeeping, construction, landscaping, factories, day labor, domestic service and child care, among others.”
Yet Human Right #4 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all of their forms,” and today 192 countries belong to the UN.
YHRI, with its award-winning educational materials, has fought against human trafficking for years by raising awareness of trafficking through educational seminars and the media, including collaborations with Ms. Laster, who is proudly listed as an advisory board member.
MillionKids.org counts Youth for Human Rights International as one of its partners in the fight to end human trafficking and help create a world where human rights awareness and responsibility become a reality. For more information on the radio show Trafficked click here.