Human trafficking is a topic of little discussion not only by the American people and the American government, but also around the world. Human trafficking is a horrendous industry where hundreds of thousands of young children and women are being abducted and treated as “repeat commodities” for activities such as forced prostitution, rape, child pornography, ritual torture, slave soldiers, child labor, and organ trafficking. There are an estimated 27 million slaves worldwide, 230 million children laborers, 16 million child prostitutes, and 800,000 are trafficked across international boarders. The profits associated with this industry are growing every year and globally it is estimated that human trafficking and enslavement have an astonishing annual street value of over $34 billion dollars. Human trafficking is a global problem that is in dire need of attention.
Many Americans believe that human trafficking only occurs in third world countries; however, this is not the case. Human Trafficking is a local problem that needs to be recognized not only by the American government, but by the American people as well. It is because of this “illusion”, that something such as human trafficking could only happen overseas, that our government has failed to address the issue to its fullest abilities and that the federal funding needed in order to stop this industry is insufficient. It is reported that human trafficking affects over four million people per year. Of these four million people, it is estimated that one million are American children between the ages 11 and 17 who are victimized and trafficked across state lines. Gangs throughout the United States including New York, California, Virginia and many others are responsible for kidnapping and enslaving young girls for purposes of prostitution. In fact, Virginia is one of the fastest growing areas for organized crime and gang affiliations in the nation.
Project Meridian Foundation is an organization of professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds working towards one common goal: bringing human trafficking to an end. Nathan Wilson, Founder/CEO of Project Meridian Foundation has created this organization which has a two-fold mission. Project Meridian Foundations first mission is to assist in the identification, capture, and prosecution of human traffickers by cooperating with international, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The second mission of Project Meridian Foundation is to rehabilitate the children and young women who are victims of human trafficking through Operation Safe House.
Project Meridian Foundation, and CEO/Founder Nathan Wilson, is currently raising funds for Operation Safe House. The goal is to open 3 Safe Houses in the United States and one in Europe by 2014. At these secure Safe Houses the children and young women will be given a place to live, clothes on their back, and food in their stomachs. PMF will also provide medical and dental visits; psychological counseling, if necessary; witness protection; English as a second language courses; and job training for the international victims. Operation Safe House is not only an amazing idea, but it gives people hope that these girls and young women can one day live a normal life, or at least as normal as one can be after going through such a tragic and life altering event. It is Project Meridian Foundation’s hope that we can raise the money to begin construction of the Safe Houses because the sooner the House’s open up, the sooner we can work towards saving the lives of these innocent children and women.
It is our duty and our right as American Citizens and as Human Beings to join together to bring justice to these cruel people in our society who fight against us and our children and young women. Project Meridian can not only be a successful foundation, but it can help to change and better the lives of victims of human trafficking and put the traffickers themselves behind bars where they belong. It is time to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves, for those who are so overpowered by fear that they are stuck in this horrendous lifestyle, for those that are too afraid to call out for help. It is time for the world to join together and bring these people to justice and leave behind a safe world for our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and neighbors to grow up in.
Bradley A. Blakeman was a deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004.