Only 1%. The turning point statistic.
During my first visit to Kolkata my friends and I worked closely with an Indian social worker who helped start a social enterprise employing women at risk of sexual exploitation. When we first arrived she gave us a basic orientation about human trafficking globally and specifically in India.
As someone who appreciates statistics and numerical data, she shared with us a statistic that I will never forget. I remember the moment like it was yesterday. We were sitting in a circle in a small classroom when she asked, “how many people do you think are rescued from situations of slavery or exploitation around the world?” Internally I thought maybe 25%, but hopefully more. We timidly called out different responses…25%? 33%? 55%?
She paused and said, “1%*, only 1% of people are rescued from situations of slavery or exploitation.” I felt my jaw drop and my heart sank. Only 1%, how could this be? One percent of 30 million people? This cannot be. No way. I was in complete shock. I am still overwhelmed today recalling this moment from two years earlier.
She began to emphasize that poverty drives the sex trade. Illegal recruiters and traffickers prey on women from impoverished situations. Often they feel as if they have no choice, but to trust in the traffickers’ (false) promises of employment. The idea of a new, fresh start in the big city nearby (or even a country far from home) can sound very compelling when there are no other options to choose from.
I will no longer remain silent about the 1%. This statistic became a turning point for me because that day I firmly resolved do whatever I could to make a dent in the fight against modern day slavery. I believe we can all do something to make a difference. We can be a voice for the 99% that have yet to be rescued. We can work together to prevent more men and women from becoming victims of trafficking and injustice.
I would want someone to take a stand for me.
*Reported by UN Office on Drugs and Crime
Written by: Kristin Schulz