From the March-April 2021 issue of News & Letters
National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, the same date of their 2007 declaration condemning all forms of human trafficking and slavery. Anti-trafficking organizations stated it will help end shame for survivors and protect youth from traffickers’ tactics.
Traffickers are often known to victims as “boyfriends,” family members, classmates, or online “friends.” Joy Smith of the Joy Smith Foundation stated, “These traffickers…make a lot of money and they groom their victims in such a way that they won’t say anything, that they can’t say anything—if they survive…if they don’t just disappear.”
The families don’t understand why these young people can’t reintegrate back into their families. Courage for Freedom, a survivor-led charity, marked the day by asking social media users to repost their meme: “I want to eradicate the buying and selling of girls, boys, and children in Canada.”
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In February, Loujain Al-Hathloul, a prominent Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist, was released after spending almost three years in prison for leading the successful campaign to legalize driving for women. She had been sentenced under a broad counter-terrorism law for charges including “sharing information with foreign diplomats and journalists” and “trying to change the Saudi system.”
Her family emphasizes that she is still not free, only on probation, banned from travel, forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and under government surveillance.
They expect her to resist prohibitions against talking about the case and to push to free the other imprisoned activists and make the government acknowledge they were tortured. Her sister Lina Al-Hathloul stated, “She knows that she’s a symbol now and that, if she gives up, then she gives up on everyone else as well.”
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In November, Scotland became the first country to make menstrual supplies free, awarding a grant to the charity FairShare to deliver them to low-income households. The bill was introduced by Labor MSP Monica Lennon, an activist against period poverty since 2016, and unanimously approved. Research showed almost half of girls had missed school because of their periods, with 10% unable to afford period products and 15% struggling to afford them. In February, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced an initiative to provide free period products in schools.
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In February, Facebook announced settlement of five lawsuits filed last year by civil rights groups stating it allowed companies to illegally make ads for job opportunities, home sales, and credit offers visible only to men, young people, and users in white neighborhoods.
One group of women filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of all women seeking jobs during a time period in 2017 and 2018. They accused Facebook and nine companies of violating the Civil Rights Act by placing ads for jobs, including those of truck driver and window installer, so that no woman would see them.
Facebook will no longer target users by gender, age, or zip code for ads related to housing, employment or credit offers. Naturally, Facebook did not accept liability for potentially violating anti-discrimination laws, but civil rights groups state the settlement marks a shift from the company’s usual strategy of deflecting public criticism.