Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Signs of Child Sexual Exploitation
-Serious changes in behavior – children once open about friends and activities are now hostile, secretive, defensive about what they are doing and who they are spending time with.
-Going out in clothes that are ‘too old for them’ or that they have borrowed from older young women.
-Going places that you know they can not afford.
-Coming home with expensive gifts such as mobile phones, jewelry – even drugs – and not being able to explain how they came by them.
-Frequently staying out late, without explaining why.
-Repeated truanting, missing from home regularly or for unusually long periods of time.
-Being found in areas where they have no reason to be or coming home after days or nights away, looking well-cared for even though they have had nowhere to stay.
-Getting into trouble with the police, committing crimes.
-Bruises, marks on the body, sexually-transmitted diseases, pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse or self-harm.
-Repeated phone calls, letters, emails from adults outside family social circle.
-Strangers hanging about outside your home.
-Young people getting into cars with unknown adults.
-Associating with other young people known to be victims of sexual exploitation.
-Friends at school express concern for them.
-Agencies expressing concern.
-Young people may try to tell you about their situation but not be able to
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Street GRACE is a non-denominational, Atlanta-based group of churches who have banded together to fight "the commercial sexual exploitation of children" that takes place in their city every day. Here are some facts from their website that I, for one, was both shocked and saddened to read:
-Between 200-300 young girls are trafficked each month in the state of Georgia alone.
-Atlanta is a focal point in Georgia's sex trade industry.
-The average age of children who are sexually exploited is 14, although in some cases the girls are no older than 10 and 11.
Street GRACE (Galvanizing Resources Against Child Exploitation) works within Atlanta's community of faith to fight the sexual exploitation of children in the city, while also supporting secular groups and organizations who have shown proven success in advocacy, aftercare, and mentoring.
I've pasted below the beginning of an Atlanta Journal Constitution article that focuses on Street GRACE's beginnings--and their battle. Click here to read the entire article, which appeared in the AJC on Sunday, June 14.
Sex-trafficking fight goes beyond streets
For more than a century, congregants at North Avenue Presbyterian Church had little reason to think that anything other than worship was going on at their corner of North and Peachtree.
In 2005, they found out others had set up shop.
Teenage prostitutes, according to a mayor’s report on child sex trafficking, had begun working within a few steps of the familiar inscription from Matthew on the church’s wall: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Members of the congregation, appalled by the report, told the Rev. Scott Weimer they wanted to take action.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Weimer said, “but their response inspired me to move forward.”
Four years later, they have helped build an extraordinary coalition of Presbyterians, Catholics and nonbelievers, conservative Christians and feminists, Jews and Muslims, city dwellers and suburbanites, all of whom have found a cause involving religion, politics and sex they agree on: eradicating child prostitution from the streets of Atlanta.
“When you … talk to a girl who is 15 and has been prostituted, it doesn’t matter anymore if you are pro-life or pro-choice,” said Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), who has become active in the campaign. “You just want to help, and debate about women’s issues or Democrat or Republican or black or white just stays away.”
Beyond the streets
These folks are not out in the streets, stalking pimps and picking up children. They’ve selected a different battlefield to which they bring particular gifts: the Legislature, the courts, fund-raising. This year, for example, the group provided hundreds of volunteers to lobby at the Capitol for anti-trafficking legislation. Members also are paying for additional safehouses for child prostitutes — tripling the number of beds from seven to 23.
“We couldn’t wait for the politicians to solve this thing,” said Marla Randolph of Sandy Springs Church of the Redeemer, part of the evangelical Presbyterian Church in America.
“And we can’t sit back and do nothing.”
It is more than being against sin, the religious groups say. There is a new flowering of justice movements and emphasis on social issues that has resulted in evangelicals campaigning against the torture of suspects in the war on terror and faith-groups speaking out on global warming.
Atlanta is a mere two-hour drive down an ever-bustling I-75 from Chattanooga, and while I've been unable to find statistics on childhood sexual exploitation in this city, it's a sure thing that our town is not immune. Sadly, I also feel certain that members of our community have been involved in the harming of these precious children.
Seeing how real the struggle is in Atlanta is a sobering wake-up call to me and to everyone here at World Next Door. We talk regularly about fighting human trafficking in countries halfway around the globe--India, Nepal--but unfortunately, I, at least, find it all to easy to ignore the very real crimes taking place in my own backyard.
Second Life is a Chattanooga-area group whose goal is the "restoration of the sexually exploited." For now, check out their website to find out more. I'll post more later on what we can do to take a stand against human trafficking right now, in our own cities and states.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thanks for your continued support of all we're about here at World Next Door!
The designs are simple: swirling daisies, the dark silhouettes of gnarled trees, cheerfully placed dots. A recycled sari, once used as a traditional Indian dress, is now a bamboo-handled purse.
The stories behind these bags, however, are more complex. The purses, available at World Next Door, downtown Chattanooga’s fair trade store, are made by women who were formerly forced to work in the sex industry in Kolkata, India. Today, thanks to fair trade, the women are able to support themselves and their families by creating and marketing the bags.
World Next Door managers Jency and Nathan Shirai traveled to eastern India in April and May, where they were able to meet some of the women who make the bags that line the shelves of their store.
“Every time I sell a Freeset or Sari Bari bag, I picture the women’s smiling faces and the joy in their eyes from having a job where they are treated with dignity and respect,” Jency Shirai said. “By selling their bags, we are playing a small part in Chattanooga to transform a community from the inside out.”
Sari Bari and Freeset are two of the companies the Shirais met with while in India. Sari Bari takes its name from two symbols: a sari, which is the traditional clothing worn by Indian women and the representation of womanhood, and bari, which means house or home. The company seeks the freedom and restoration of Kolkata’s red light districts by giving women affected by the sex trade industry dignified employment opportunities.
Freeset employs former prostitutes, many of whom were trafficked into Kolkata’s sex districts from neighboring countries like Bangladesh or Nepal. Today, more than 140 women work for the company, which produces approximately 1,000 bags each day. Employees at Freeset are paid a fair wage for their labor and receive health insurance and a pension plan with their job.
World Next Door’s relationship with these Kolkata-based businesses is living proof that local consumers who shop with their conscience in mind can make a global difference.
Fair trade is an alternative business practice that hinges on guaranteeing fair wages and dignified working conditions for producers in marginalized economic systems.
One of our fair trade partners, Texas- and India-based Handmade Expressions, this week featured Nathan and Jency's trip to India on their company blog. Click here to check out their take on World Next Door's visit to two artisan groups that create products for Handmade Expressions.
Handmade Expressions is an importer and wholesaler of fair trade, handmade products from India. All of the company's products are made by hand following strict fair trade standards. Partners earn a fair wage, work under safe conditions, and are given help to develop their communities.
Handmade Expressions was started in 2005 by Manish Gupta. Stateside, the company is based in Austin, Texas. A second arm of the company operates in India, where Handmade Expressions staff work to ensure that fair trade practices are upheld.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
So it was with great excitement that I discovered this campaign by Green America. The group is urging Hershey to join the ranks of fair trade chocolate companies.
It's about time America's chocolate company stands up for fairness. Britain's best-selling chocolate brand, Cadbury, has already taken the plunge. The company announced this spring that it plans to get its cocoa for the best-selling Dairy Milk bar from fair trade farmers in Ghana. (Check out this article to get the full story.)
Here's what Green America says in its argument for why Hershey should join the ranks of fair trade providers:
Fair Trade certification ensures that farmers are both able to meet the basic needs of their families and to continue to grow cocoa in the future by offering a fair price for cocoa. Fair Trade provides a path for farmers to increase their livelihoods and improve labor and environmental conditions in cocoa production. Fair Trade also has additional benefits like encouraging the development of democratic cooperatives where farmers have a greater voice in the market.
On the other hand, Hershey has not agreed to any third-party certification programs for their cocoa supply. Additionally, Hershey owns the license to produce Cadbury products in the US. Hershey is well placed to be a leader in Fair Trade cocoa sourcing for US consumers, but they need to know that we want our chocolate to be Fair Trade Certified™!
Green America is urging fair traders to call Hershey (1-800-468-1714, Dial "0") and voice their desire to see Hershey make the chocolate business a more fair industry. Again, check out Green America's webpage for tips on what to say and more info on how to voice your concerns.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
According to the New York Times, on Thursday Peru's Congress voted to overturn two measures that would have opened native land to development by outside companies. Indigenous Peruvians claim the land as their own, although they have no formal property titles to prove their assertions.
Here's an excerpt from Simon Romero's NY Times article:
After the vote on Thursday, however, some indigenous leaders said they would lift the scattered blockades and halt the protests.
“Today is a historic day for all indigenous people and for the nation of Peru,” said Daysi Zapata, a leader of the Peruvian Jungle Inter-Ethnic Development Association, a group representing more than 300,000 people from Peru’s indigenous groups.
The apparent end to the impasse came after at least 24 police officers and 10 civilians were killed in clashes and acts of retaliation in northern Bagua Province, some of Peru’s bloodiest political violence since a two-decade war ended in 2000.
Frustrated by the government's refusal to bend on the issue, indigenous groups had taken to the streets, protesting and blocking roads in some parts of the country. The standoff turned ugly at the beginning of June, when police reportedly attacked a northwest Peru roadblock. Police say that more than 30 people died during the showdown, while indigenous groups estimate the number at 100+.
I had an interesting chat with Nathan a few days ago about the situation in Peru. He shared with me how many believe that lack of property rights is a contributing factor to poverty across the globe. I did a bit of Google research and found this article which details how those without formal property rights have been jipped, again and again, all over the world. Interesting (and thought-provoking!) reading.
As I mentioned last week, we have relationships with several cooperatives in Peru, many of whom are comprised of mostly indigenous people. This latest news can only be a positive for them, although Romero reported that "other disputed decrees...remain in effect, raising the prospect of new protests."
For more information on the situation in Peru, check out this blog post by Elizabeth with the Washington DC Fair Trade Network (note: it appears she was writing before news of the overturned measures had spread). She was in Peru preparing to hike to Macchu Pichu as the situation unfolded. Elizabeth writes about how the Peruvian government's pursuit of free trade policies (as opposed to fair trade) have contributed to the problems.
A final note: my younger sister, Mary Emily, has been in Peru for most of this month working at a Lima orphanage during her summer break. She is fine and has not been affected by the violence, although news of the protests has been everywhere. I think that mostly she has just been grateful for the opportunity to meet and work with precious children who are just in need of someone to love (and hug) them!
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Join us and the "Fair Trade the White House" movement as we petition to make America's first home a fair one. This "grassroots, nonpartisan coalition" is inviting First Lady Michelle Obama to make the White House a fair trade home. Here's what the folks making it happen say: "By declaring the White House a “Fair Trade Home,” Mrs. Obama can encourage households throughout America to continue refining their buying habits toward ethical consumption so that poverty, both in America and around the world, is reduced."
Below is a copy of the online petition to Mrs. Obama. Check it out and sign for yourself!
Dear First Lady Michelle Obama,
As a nonpartisan coalition of fair trade organizations, vendors, and consumers, we cordially invite you to help extend the fair trade movement by declaring the White House a “Fair Trade Home.”
For more than sixty years, the Fair Trade movement has strived to create social and economic opportunities for the world’s poorest communities. As you know well, it is the poor who most acutely feel the effects of economic turbulence, climate change, and isolation. Fair Trade combats these issues.
As you may be aware, the movement toward ethical and sustainable consumption has grown to include faith-based centers, college campuses, businesses and individuals. The United States is also home to eleven “Fair Trade Towns/Cities” including Media, PA, Brattleboro, VT, Milwaukee, WI, Amherst, MA, Taos, NM, Northampton, MA, San Francisco, CA, Montclair, NJ, Ballston Spa, NY, Chico, CA, and Bluffton, OH.
Knowing that you and the President share these values, we invite you to extend the Fair Trade movement by making the White House a “Fair Trade Home” and increasing the number of items used by the White House which have been sourced according to Fair Trade principles. By requesting that your staff purchase items like food, body-care, and clothing made or sourced under Fair Trade Principles, your family’s example would show Americans how their purchasing habits can alleviate poverty, reduce inequality, and create opportunities for people to help themselves.
As a coalition of organizations, vendors, and consumers supporting Fair Trade, we represent 44 organizations, account for over $3.8 billion in annual sales and work with approximately 55,000 artisans, farmers, and producers around the world.
We look forward to your RSVP.
By the way...we found news of the "Fair Trade the White House" movement through Global Fayre's blog. Check them out here!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Moussavi's supporters have not taken the news lying down, but instead have taken to the streets to voice their protests of an election where their votes seemed not to matter. Much of the pro-democracy organization seems to be taking place online. Twitter has risen as a particularly powerful tool for protestors, with organizers using the medium to spread word about plans as well as sharing photos and video taken at the scene of the events.
This Youtube video is a chilling look at what is happening on the ground in Tehran. Warning: it is violent. This compilation of photos from CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour, tells the story better than words. This photo collection on http://www.boston.com/ is the best I've seen.
Here are a couple of pictures, obtained via Twitter (where else?) from the events of the last several days.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
And--just for kicks (ok, bad pun, I couldn't help it)--this Futbol player, made in Chile, is too fun to resist. What dad wouldn't love a hand-sized sculpture made of manly scraps like nuts, bolts, and screws? If dad is not into soccer, don't worry, we have you covered there, too--these Nuts 'n Bolts figures come as a sax player, a guitarist, a basketball player, and more!
Honoring Dad + shopping fair = a perfect combination. Get all these gifts and more here, at our online store!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Fair trade is an international system of trade. It gives the farmers and artisans who produce the goods we all use every day (for example, coffee, chocolate, and handicrafts) a way to lift themselves out of poverty by guaranteeing fair prices and sustainability. In short, the people who do the work are paid fairly for their labor.
Why bother with fair trade? Here's a start. Did you know that:
-Nearly half the world lives on less than $2 a day and the poorest 40% of the world's population earns only 5% of the global income.
-An estimated 218 million children are engaged in child labor (UNICEF).
-At least 70% of child laborers work in agriculture (UNICEF).
-Almost three-quarters (126 million) of children engaged in child labor work in hazardous situations or conditions, such as working in mines, working with chemicals and pesticides in agriculture or working with dangerous machinery (UNICEF).
-When farmers are not guaranteed a minimum price for their crops, they often fall victim to the global economy if demand decreases. When farmers rely on few, specific crops they are left particularly vulnerable to changes in the market. Fair trade guarantees a minimum price, so that farmers won’t fall deeper into poverty if the global economy influences profits.
(The above facts are taken from Plan and Transfair. Check out their websites for more information!)
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Here is an excerpt from an informational pamphlet written by his daughter, Mary Grace, who is the driving force behind the book drive.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
But, unfortunately, it seems that this is exactly what the people of Peru are facing right now as clashes between indigenous Peruvians and national police have been ongoing since Friday.
(I'll admit, I didn't stumble upon this news completely at random--my younger sister, Mary Emily, is spending most of this month in Peru as she volunteers in a Lima orphanage during her summer break from college.)
Here's a summary of the situation from CNN:
The violence started Friday when national police attacked a roadblock near the city of Bagua in the Amazonian part of northwestern Peru. About 2,500 indigenous people had blocked the main road to protest measures the government has taken to sell land to energy companies and other businesses. Indians native to the area say that it is their land even though they don't have formal property titles.
When it was over, many lay dead and wounded.
Analysts agree this is the worst violence in Peru since the brutal Marxist Shining Path guerrilla insurgency died down in the 1990s.
Estimates of the dead range between 33 (Peruvian police) and 100+ (Indian rights groups). News of this uprising is particularly poignant as many of our store's Peruvian fair trade items are made by native Peruvians.
For instance, our finger puppets (an eye-grabbing collection of knitted, finger-sized animals and people) are made by the Aymara women who live near Lake Titicaca on the Andean mountain plateau. Click here to read more about the artists who make a living from their textile knitting.
Word is that the current uprisings are taking place in the northwest part of the country, while a quick Google search of the Aymara showed they mostly live in the southern part of the country. Still, although they may not be the primary group affected by this week's violence, they, like other indigenous peoples throughout the country, will surely bear the ramifications of the recent violence.
CNN reporter Arthur Brice summed up international worries over the uprisings at the end of his article, saying:
The crux of the issue concerns Peru's economy and how the indigenous population fit in a 21st-century world.
This is an issue all of us, wherever we live, share.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Word of the women's sentencing has sparked speculation that the reporters are being used as bargaining chips by the North Korean government, which has recently faced global ire as the reclusive country allegedly continues its testing of nuclear weapons.
NPR has done an excellent wrap-up of the situation; click here to read their story about the journalists' dilemma.
The Los Angeles Times offers a chilling perspective on what life inside those camps would be like for the two women. Here is an excerpt from their article:
"There aren't a lot of guarantees in that type of environment. It's different from any prison that exists in the modern-day United States. This is a very sobering challenge for a new administration."
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. This 2003 photo (which you may have seen before) aptly proves the point: while the lights of South Korea gleam brightly on the southern part of the peninsula, North Korea is dark, stark evidence of the country's isolation from the rest of the world.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
In all, FTRN believes that more than 100 media articles were published about the event. Here at World Next Door, our owner, Will Honeycutt, was able to speak with local NPR affiliate WUTC about our store's mission and promote the event. As Nathan mentioned in an earlier post, we've continued to see lots of feedback from that interview and from other advertisements on the station. It is such an encouragement to know that people are listening and paying attention to our message.
Thanks for your help in making this year's World Fair Trade Day the biggest (and dare I say best) ever!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
You can be a part of the fun--come by our store with an armful and give the magic of Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter (or whoever your own particular favorite might be) to give to children in Nigeria.
We'll have more details later as the Coffmans fill us in on their plans, but for now here's a summary from the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Columnist Mark Kennedy featured Mary Grace's quest last in his column last Sunday (read it here). Here's an excerpt from his article:
Mary Grace Coffman, age 8, may be the world’s youngest librarian. The Signal Mountain third grader and her father, pediatrician Allen Coffman, have resolved to help provide a library for a school in Nigeria. “I was amazed that they didn’t have a library,” said Mary Grace, who attends Nolan Elementary and enjoys mystery books. “I told my dad, ‘It’s not a school without a library.’”
The Coffmans came to know about the school through a family friend, Chi Ekwinye, an America-educated Nigerian who earned a doctorate from the University of Georgia and returned to Africa to establish a church-sponsored orphanage, a school and a shelter for battered women.Mary Grace said she and some of her friends have formed a little club they call “World Girls.” They write letters to the kids at the Right Steps School in Abia state Nigeria.
Dr. Coffman said he had read about relief agencies using old shipping containers as makeshift houses, and he had a brainstorm: Why not use one to make an instant library for the school in Africa?His library-in-a-box idea is simple and elegant. The Coffmans have purchased a 40-foot cargo container, about three-quarters the size of a tractor-trailer truck, that they plan to stock with donated children’s books.
Come on down and give--there's lots of reading to be done!
Here are the excerpts:
"People are cutting back on spending, and organic foods tend to be more expensive. But here is an interesting point: sales of Fairtrade goods are holding up, even though they often cost more too.
"The proportion of UK shoppers who say they buy Fairtrade goods – with producers being paid a minimum price – stood at 25 per cent this year, compared with 23 per cent in 2008 and only 9 per cent in 2006, according to IGD, the grocery trade research organisation. By contrast, the number of consumers who say they buy organic food fell to 19 per cent from 24 per cent last year (although that was up from 12 per cent in 2006).
"Fairtrade has its critics, who say it encourages producers in the developing world to remain in sectors that they would be better off abandoning in favour of more promising industries. Many consumers, however, seem happy to accept the argument that buying Fairtrade goods helps to lift living standards. Cadbury announced this year that all the cocoa in Dairy Milk, the UK’s best-selling chocolate bar, would come from Fairtrade farmers. The UK-based confectionery group said this was what consumers wanted. Fairtrade farms were also more productive and the move would help Cadbury ensure the sustainability of its cocoa supplies."
(Michael Skapinker. Full article here.)
What I think this demonstrates is that when money becomes tight, people pay more attention to where their spent money ends up. Skapinker goes on to point out that in the UK, it has been difficult to prove to consumers that eating organic food is worth the premium price with respect to nutrition, animal treatment, and energy effeciency. So the argument for organic is somewhat weak, according to Skapinker.
We do hope that we will see a similar trend in the US (not necessarily with declining sales of organic food, but with consistent and rising sales of fairtrade goods). We do challenge you to find out where your money ends up as you spend it. If you have any questions about what World Next Door does with your money when you make a purchase, we invite you to come in and ask us!