By Karen Rempel
The work of the United Nations (UN) is near and dear to us at WestView News. Maggie Capsis started the Guides program at the UN Secretariat Building and was Head of the Guides there. Anyone who knows publisher George Capsis has heard the wonderful story of how they met at the UN.
One of the UN’s goals is to eradicate human trafficking. Human trafficking is the action of illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labor or sexual exploitation. There are an estimated 25 million victims of human trafficking in the world today. It’s surprising that many victims of international trafficking are transported on airplanes.
Human trafficking is a very real problem in the U.S. and right here in New York City. Nicholas Kristof reported study results in The New York Times in 2016 on the prevalence of human trafficking of homeless youth in the United States. He wrote that the researchers found that of those interviewed, nearly one-fifth of homeless youth in the United States and Canada are victims of human trafficking, including those trafficked for sex, labor, or both.
Kristof told the story of “Naomi” who came to NYC to visit a friend at the age of 16, and was trafficked when she arrived. For four years she was sold for sex in New York and New Jersey by a pimp who locked her in the closet when he left his Brooklyn apartment. “The fear of having nowhere to go, of being homeless was very real,” Naomi said. “He would say my family wasn’t looking for me, that they didn’t care where I was and no one would help me if I left.”
The United Nations Association of New York (UNA-NY) educates Americans about the work of the UN and builds public support for more effective U.S. engagement in the UN. This year, the UNA-NY’s Humanitarian of the Year award honors a corporation and two individuals who have made immense contributions to the UN’s goal of stopping human trafficking. The ceremony is taking place at Essex House on October 3rd.
Ann Nicol, Executive Director of UNA-NY, said, “Human trafficking is such a heinous crime, attention needs to be brought to the public. We feel that it’s a terrible thing happening around the world in many countries, and that’s the theme we want to bring attention to with this year’s Humanitarian of the Year awards.”
Delta Airlines is being honored for its leadership in the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery. Nicol explained, “They are really going out of their way to do a lot about it.” Delta Airlines has trained over 56,000 of their staff to recognize signs that a child passenger is being trafficked, such as not knowing where they are going or who will be picking them up. They have published education and action materials on Facebook and at http://dl.aero/6185TBkNJ.
Ashley Judd, activist, actor, writer, filmmaker, humanitarian, and Time magazine’s Person of the Year 2017, is being honored for her commitment to ending human trafficking. She is Goodwill Ambassador in the UN’s Population Fund, which is the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency. Judd is fiercely committed to social justice and believes that the sexual and reproductive health of girls and women—including choosing if, when, and how many children to have—is at the heart of poverty eradication and sustainable development. She has traveled around the world visiting slums, brothels, schools, hospices, drop-in centers, and clinics. Judd said, “I am excited to do what I can to help girls and women everywhere contribute their potential—which is indeed awesome—to the progress of all humankind.”
Nicholas Kristof, journalist and writer, is being honored for his journalism and dedication to promoting awareness of human trafficking. He has been writing and speaking about this subject for decades. A New York Times op-ed columnist and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, Kristof brings attention to human rights abuses and social injustices around the world. He has reported on child slavery and sex trafficking in Cambodia, Nepal, and many other countries.
To join the UN in the fight to stop human trafficking by making a donation to UNA-NYC, visit www.unanyc.org/join_us/give_