Foreign Policy Blogs

One Day Without the Inernet vs. A Life of Slavery, How Does Isolation Help it Spread?

I am sitting here today and I am at my wits end, just because I cannot get on the internet! Its like my life can't go on unless I am on the internet, like I cannot be part of the world if I don't have communication with those outside my geographic reach. So if I am feeling crippled by the lack of the internet for one day, how does a whole village or society survive without it? Yes, I know one will not literally die without the internet or phone, but does one miss opportunities for life advancement without them? Maybe life advancement isn't really the main issue, but do they loose the ability to be educated and protected?

How would I get a job in my field if I didn't have the internet, I would have to physically go out and meet people, which I only know where to find through word of mouth or on the internet. So If I took away my internet and phone, what would be my chances of getting a job? Little to none, first of all even if I manage to contact someone, they cannot let me know with ease that they want to hire me. Secondly I would not have access to the knowledge that I continue to gain when I am able to research and share ideas on the internet with others in the field. Much of my in person networking contacts where originally started through the internet, either via another contact or through an online interest group. Therefore without the internet and most defiantly a phone, I would not be able to advance in my career or field. That said and you all know what I'm talking about as I'm not near as bad as many of you who carry your blackberry's as you can't go a minute without your e-mail. That leads me to the following thought for you, how one in a remote village in Nepal, Afghanistan or the Caucasus advance in a career and the digital age, let alone be aware of all the current social and economic issues that are facing all of us.

People question me all the time, when I talk about human trafficking, regarding the serious nature of the number of victims. How could they not know? No one is that naive to believe that they where really getting a real job right? But the truth is they can be and they are! But its not their faults, its ours, it's the world governments. If I sit in the capital of the US and still come across people who have never heard of immensity of human trafficking and slavery, people who only think Georgia is a state and fail to know that its also a country, then of course it is completely plausible that someone who lives a life without modern conveniences' would not see the full risks of these horrendous trades. Plus even if you have some level of skeptics you may go forward with it, because your economic situation leaves you with little choice. I have found my own self misled by the ideas and words of others, and I too have done something that I knew was risky. I have taken at least three or four major risks in my life, and every time I knew the risks but I did it anyway, as I felt I either had no other option or that if the risk paid off it would be well worth it. Sometimes I have won the gamble and sometimes I have lost. Unfortunately I know all to well how bad the fall was when I lost one of the risks; moved myself all the way across the world lured by the idea of my dream and a promise to fulfill them as long as I was willing to work hard and risk it all. So I took the bait and I packed it all in, and in the end it proved to all be an unfounded reality and there I was alone in a foreign place with no money, no friends, no job and a shattered dream. But I was still lucky as I am privileged by birth as an American and I have modern technologies and conveniences that are accessible to me no matter what my situation.

So if I a well educated person with access to all the tools our modern life has to offer can be conned or fooled by the chase of a dream, and I know I am not alone, then why wouldn"t someone from a remote area of Nepal believe that their daughter really will work as a maid in India and help save the family from economic hardship or why wouldn't a young Ukrainian teenager believe that she will be a model or a nanny. When your dream, big or small, is presented to you as a possibility and the reality of your situation is far from prosperous, why wouldn't you risk it all for the chance of a lifetime. Sure we've all gotten that e-mail or letter in the mail claiming we won a million dollars for a sweepstakes we didn't enter or we get the job offer to make a fortune and all we have to do is make a few bank transfers, and they sound too good to be true, because they are! Its pretty obvious to us in those situations, so we don't do it, but to a person who is desperate or a person living in poverty, its better to try. These victims of trafficking and slavery are not risking it all on a dream like those in your e-mail scams, no they have risked it all for chances at becoming nannies, maids, models, cruise ship workers, waitresses. If someone offered you a job as a waitress in a bustling town wouldn't you believe it existed? Ok, maybe you may say the models and actress lines had to be more transparent, but really how many of us have or would chase the rainbow to LA or NYC to be famous if someone told us we have a shot? Many of us would and have, just ask half the waitresses and bartenders in NYC and LA. The truth is the girls led by these false modeling agencies, or real ones with a seedy side business, are actually beautiful and very well could have been, but the reality was far from the dream. Instead of a life as a waitress who makes enough to send a bit home to her parents, child or so on, she is locked away as a sex slave. Oh she does make more money than she imagined, but she never sees a dime, it all goes to those in the underbelly of this criminal network comprised of black-market human beings.

Therefore how do we successfully educate those who are at risk for human trafficking and slavery? A person who is at risk or has become a human slave does not always know that there are laws to protect them. And even when people know the laws they are often hard to enforce in many areas due to a lack of police, corruption and so forth. So where does that leave us? To leaves those of us who are aware of the situation to promote the reality of the truth and to fight for the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves. We have to educate ourselves and the rest of society on the truth, the risks and the signs. We have to work to establish better international laws, support and rehabilitation programs for victims, create more prevention programs. Alternatives have to be there for these potential victims, for if there is no economic alternative the cycle will never end.

Its easy to tell as I have posted this that my temporary shutoff from the rest of the world has now been resolved and I am once again able to speak to the world and learn what is happening far from home. Nevertheless for so many others this is a far cry from their daily torment, as they are abused, violated and treated as a disposable human, to be thrown away when they are no longer of use. It is for them that I speak to you now, lets not forget the privileges we all have. Even on our worst days we are lucky! Don't forget the children living in poverty and slavery, they need your ears and your voice.

Write you Congressmen, be activevolunteer, talk about it to your friends and family, become a community activist and advocate, learn more about the truth and just be aware! Every person has a voice and no matter how small it makes a difference!

You can start by signing some of these online petitions (these are only a few of the many available for signing online):

See my resource pages for more links and organizations working to end these horrid trades.



Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.

Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict