It has been a while since I have written for the Amirah blog as we took a hiatus for sharing our favorite past posts and gearing up for fall. I feel as though there is increasing momentum around Amirah House, human trafficking work in Greater Boston and beyond. Here is a sampling of highlights from the past few months:
- As shared through the Amirah FB page and newsletters work has been moving with great speed toward opening the house for survivors. The physical space is nearing completion and preparations for the kinds of wrap around care is being made through hiring and training. Amirah gained visibility among the thousands who gathered for Soulfest in August and in Government Center at UNOW Boston event in September.
- This past year anti-trafficking groups celebrated new legislation that is helping victims and pursuing perpetrators more stringently. In the past six months there have been more investigations and prosecutions of criminals involved in the sex trade and illegal working conditions. For example, according the Boston Globe this fall there have been arrests made in Lawrence and Hyde Park of men for multiple counts including interstate transport of persons for prostitution. There is increasing awareness and vigilance on the part of law enforcement and the department of justice.
- On September 25, national attention was drawn to contemporary abolition work when the President Obama "declared that fighting modern slavery is one of the great human rights battles of our era." He announced advances in policy and recognized the work of long time advocates like International Justice Mission and the Polaris Project. I also appreciated that the atrocities of domestic human trafficking and oppressive working conditions were acknowledged. This is not just an international issue. Many of our agricultural workers, domestic helpers and marginalized teens are at risk of being coerced into dehumanizing work and captivity.
- PBS has been airing the documentary “Half the Sky”, based on the powerful book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide . This film has been creating a buzz across social media sites such as FB and Twitter; people who view it are imploring others to watch this film or at least be open to facing the painful facts about the work yet to be done in area of justice for women worldwide. While it pulls back the curtain to reveal horrific stories, they also show us the light of restoration when victims work with agencies and advocates to restore their own lives with hope and self-sufficiency.
Perhaps the phrase “Oppression and Opportunity” is one to keep before us in the work of restoration and awareness raising. Advocates and activists who see only oppression can’t stay in the work for very long, or becoming people who have no hope left to offer those whom they want to accompany. Skipping the real stories and only offering “opportunity” (and hand outs ) may keep us from engaging our souls with the work.
So may we think of real women and children, be open to seeing reality for what it is with both heartache and hope as we send checks, write letters, sponsor a child, build a house, propose laws or walk the streets at midnight with an outreach team. Thanks for your support of Amirah House at this time of great momentum and great need.