UNIAP's Matt Friedman calls for action to end modern-day slavery
United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) regional project manager Matt Friedman was first exposed to human trafficking on the streets of Nepal, over twenty years ago.
"I was a public health officer," Mr Friedman recalled during a Ted Talk earlier this month. "We were coming into contact with girls between the ages of 13 and 15 years old that were HIV positive. We couldn't understand what was going on, so we started going to the shelters."
Inside the shelters, he discovered that these young girls had been trafficked from their homes and sold into sexual slavery - they were children living in a very adult world.
Today, some two decades later, 21 million people are enslaved around the world. They are trapped in indentured servitude, forced labor, sexual slavery; if they stood shoulder to shoulder, their human chain would stretch from Beijing to Cape Town, Mr Friedman described.
He offered three areas of action to increase awareness about slavery and fight human trafficking:
1) Get the word out about the numbers: "If you don't know slavery exists," he said, "how can you do anything about it?"
2) Lend skills to the anti-human trafficking movement. He called on teachers to educate their students, and writers and journalists to tell the stories of trafficking victims.
3) Consume consciously: "As consumers you make choices about products. And because 75% of what we're dealing with is labor trafficking that is associated with supply chains. go online before you buy your next telephone. Make sure that the company you're buying from is responsible.
Watch Mr Friedman's talk in its entirety here: