Freedom

We think of slavery as something from the past. But that isn't true. There are more slaves in the world now than ever before. 

We’re pretty lucky to live in a country with so much freedom. We are able to dream big, go to college, and move freely around the world with an incredibly powerful passport. However, girls in other countries are not so lucky. There are millions of girls (and boys and men and women) around the world who aren’t free. In fact, slavery is trickling into the US too, we just don't always know it. It’s not okay. So let’s talk about it.

Here's this month's video!

 

 

Think About:

  • Middle-school students often learn about slavery in American history in the context of the Civil War.  Were you surprised to hear that slavery still exists? Why or why not? Why do you think there is not a higher level of awareness regarding modern-day slavery?

  • What does freedom mean to you? Do you consider yourself to be free? Are you free in some ways, but not in others?

  • 55% of slaves in the world are women and girls. What makes women and girls particularly vulnerable to slavery? How can we prevent these vulnerabilities?

  • How would your life be different if you had been born into slavery? How would your daily life be different? Would you still have the same hopes and dreams?

 

Activities:

  • Activity #1: Your Slavery Footprint. Did you know that slaves work for you? It’s an uncomfortable, icky thought. But it’s true. Check out this survey from slaveryfootprint.org to find out exactly how many slaves are working to make your lifestyle possible. How do you feel? What small changes can you make in your day-to-day life to cut back on your slavery footprint?

  • Activity #2: Learn More. Americans love to boast of our freedoms, but did you know that the Cato Institute actually ranks America as being the 23rd most free country in the world? Hong Kong, Switzerland, and New Zealand are the freest jurisdictions in the world. Read more at Cato's Human Freedom Index page. In what ways are Americans still not free? What can we do make America the freest country in the world?

  • Activity #3: Learn the Warning Signs. What warning signs can you look for to recognize someone who is in slavery? Share what you’ve learned with others and get the word out!

  • Activity #4: Case Studies. Read through the United Nation’s Universal Declaration on Human Rights at this website. Then, read the three case studies below and identify how their human rights and freedoms are being violated based on the declarations from the UN. (Case studies provided by discoverhumanrights.org.)

 

    • Case Study #1: Cassandra 

      I am 15 years old, and for the past two years, I have worked for a family in the United States. I work every day, from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm—eighteen hours of work. I do all the work in the house. I clean, I cook the meals, and I wash and feed the baby. There are never any days that I do not have to work. I have very little time to eat and rest, and sometimes, if I do not work fast enough or long enough, the father of the family will hurt me. I did not choose this life. I was born in Haiti, and after my parents died, I needed a way to make money for myself. A man approached me in my country and told me he had a job for me as a waitress in an American restaurant. He put me on a plane. When I arrived, a different man picked me up at the airport. He told me that he would take me back to his house for the night, and then I would start my job the next morning. This was a lie. We arrived at his house, and he locked me in his kitchen. He is now my boss and he is not a nice man. He tells me that he sends money back to my family each month as payment for my work, but I know that this is not the truth. I know that there is no money, that there will never be any money. He keeps my important papers in a safe, and he will not let me leave the house. If I do not do what he says, he threatens to call the police. He tells me that they will do horrible things to me, worse than the things he already does to me. I must choose between misery and misery—between a rock and a hard place. There are many days when I feel very sick with terrible headaches and stomachaches and I cannot eat. I sometimes am in so much pain that I cry, but the family does not care. They tell me to stop imagining that I am sick—that I am telling stories so that I will not have to work. They will not take me to the doctor. The physical pain is only the beginning. My head and my heart hurt more. I have been so trampled, so beaten, that I do not know happiness, or hope, or love. I feel broken, yes, completely broken.

    • Case Study #2: Melissa 

      My name is Melissa, and I am from Phoenix, Arizona. A few years ago, I was working two jobs, trying to pay my way through college. One of my jobs was as a cashier in a mall near my house. While I was at work one day, a man came to my register and purchased his items. He was attractive, well-dressed, and charismatic; there was no reason to be suspicious of him. He said he was a modeling agent, looking for models in the area. He had a business card and everything. He told me that I was very beautiful and asked me if I would like to be a model for his company. I agreed to meet with him after my shift at work. He took me to dinner with a woman who he said was his wife. They told me they would need to take me to get a makeover, and then they would fly me to California for my first photo shoot. I got my hair, nails, and makeup done. Everything seemed normal, exciting. They invited me back to their home for the photo shoot. When they started taking pictures of me with a disposable camera, I thought it was strange. They noticed it made me nervous, so they assured me that once we got to California, there would be a photo shoot with expensive equipment and professional photographers. But the trip to California never happened. The couple has kept me locked inside their home where I am forced to work as a prostitute. The man put the pictures from the disposable camera on a website for an escort service. Now men can view my profile on a website, find out how much I cost, and how to purchase me. I miss college, I miss my friends. I don’t know how this happened to me.

    • Case Study #3: Sofia 

      I am from a very small town in South America. A lady came to my town to offer good jobs in the United States. I was recruited, along with two other women, to come to work in a restaurant in California. When I arrived in the United States, Mario, the trafficker, took me to a restaurant in California. A man gave Mario some money and then left. The man told me that I needed to work to pay off the money it cost to get me to the United States. Now I am forced to work long hours every day, and I am told that I cannot leave until all my debt is repaid. Almost all of the money that I make is taken away to pay my debts, so I only make $1.60 an hour. I really want to get a different job, so I work really hard and really fast, hoping that I will pay off all the debt soon. I cannot understand how I could owe so much money. One day I tried to ask the restaurant owner how much more money I owed him. He got very angry, telling me to mind my own business. He slapped me across the face. What I do not understand is this: how could my own money, my own job, and my own life not be my own business? I would try to escape but I’m afraid—if I do owe him money and run away without paying it I could be arrested. Also I’m not sure where I would go or who I would turn to. I do not speak english and I am scared. 

 

Remember:

What can YOU do today to make a difference? The answers to many challenges lie in you and girls around the world. What can you do to link arms with girls around you and girls around the world to make life a bit better for us all? Give a presentation to your class? Start a conversation on social media? Host a fundraiser? Whether you do something big or small, YOU can make a difference.

 

Extra Resources: Learn Even More

 

 

 

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  • Million Girl Army
    published this page in Video Library 2021-05-04 13:24:46 -0600
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    published this page in Video Library 2019-01-02 10:54:08 -0700