With the holidays coming up, you might be struggling to determine and find good gifts to buy for family and friends. We recommend using this consumer opportunity to create some change in the world, build awareness, and make a difference. This is totally possible through the products available at WHYSgiving!
Another idea that we want to recommend is spreading the word of the issues that are most important to you. One of the most important issues to us is the pervasive, devastating issue of human trafficking. Human trafficking happens in every single country in the world. It affects almost all communities. It is something that everyone despite religious beliefs, political affiliation or any other orientation can support.
If you have a friend or family member who is inspired to be a force for good in this world, check out the books we recommend. Your gift could be the catalyst for them to achieve their pursuit of making a positive impact by learning more about this issue.
Why Read Books on Human Trafficking?
Many people are surprised to learn that slavery still exists in the world today. In fact, there are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves on this planet. And globally, slave are sold on average for $90.
According to the United States State Department, between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year. 80% of these people are female and approximately half of them are children.
Human trafficking comes in many different forms. Trafficking always involves exploitation and sometimes it looks like forcing victims into: slavery, forced or involuntary servitude, committing sex acts for pornography, or prostitution. Some estimates show that about 80% of human trafficking involves sexual exploitation.
Human trafficking exists in the United States today. The estimated totals of people trafficked in this country range from 14,500 to 17,500 each year. In a report by the Urban Institute in 2014, the underground sex economy ranged from about $40 million in Denver to $290 million in Atlanta.
This is a universal problem that deserves our collective attention and energy to bring an end to it. One of the best ways to build awareness and knowledge on this complex, harrowing issue is by reading the many books written on human trafficking. We will recommend four different non-fiction books on the topic. However, dozens of illuminating books exist on this topic that can aid you, your friends and family to build awareness and fight this devastating battle.
We recommend Half the Sky, Not For Sale, Runaway Girl and The Road of Lost Innocence. Each of these books would make wonderful gifts during this holiday season.
We Recommend: Half the Sky
Journalists and Pulitzer prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn wrote this extraordinary book that has inspired a documentary by the same name, a foundation and an entire movement.
This book acts as a call to arms against the pervasive oppression of women and girls in the developing world. Kristof and WuDunn are our guides in understanding the lives of oppressed women in Africa and Asia. In this book, we follow many women including a Cambodian teenager sold into the sex trade and an Ethiopian mother who suffered life-threatening injuries during childbirth in an ill-equipped, dangerous environment.
By showing the depth of devastation and the little resources that are required in order to reverse this situation, Krisof and WuDunn appropriately share their feelings of anger, sadness, and ultimately hope with the reader.
The authors also clearly explain their theories on the best way for the average American to do their part. They also impart recommendations for legislative and developmental change.
This book is heartbreaking and earth shattering. It will make you cry and make you full of rage. But overall, it will give you hope. It will empower you with knowledge and know-how. It will bring you on board to a crusade that is make a true impact.
In the words of Nicholas D. Kristof, “This is a story of transformation. It is change that is already taking place, and change that can accelerate if you’ll just open your heart and join in.”
We Recommend: Not For Sale
Not For Sale is also a book that evolved into a movement and foundation that is determined to make a change in the lives of people currently enslaved by human trafficking and for people recovering from the trauma of that enslavement.
This triumphant book is written by award winning journalist David Batstone. The catalyst for this book was a personal experience that Batstone had in one of his favorite neighborhood restaurants. The author discovered that one of his favorite restaurants, an Indian restaurant, had been the center of a local human trafficking ring in the San Francisco Bay Area. 550 Indian girls had been brought from their homeland to Berkeley to work in this restaurant, many of whom were eventually forced into the illegal sex trade.
Batstone was astonished and began committing himself to fighting this overwhelming global issue. The back cover of the book urges the importance of this issue, “Human trafficking generates $32 billion annually and enslaves over 30 million people, half of them children.”
The author not only describes the brutality of human trafficking, but also recommends key, strategic ways to fight it. It is a book that is very difficult to read—not because it is written poorly or hard to understand, it is written beautifully and is easily comprehendible. However, the reality for so many people around the world is incredibly difficult to imagine. For that reason, it is imperative that we get uncomfortable and take a stand against the inhumanity and cruelty of human trafficking.
We Recommend: Runaway Girl
This book is not written by an award-winning journalist, but is instead written by a woman who recounts her first-hand life experience with sex trafficking. Carissa Phelps writes a traumatic account of her experiences with abuse, neglect, and pain.
After running away from an abusive home, she found herself running straight into the brutal, unforgiving arms of a pimp who exploited her and sold her body for his own monetary gain.
Today, with no small miracle, Phelps has graduated from UCLA with both a law degree and an MBA. She has committed herself both through his book and through her work to help at-risk youth discover their own path to a healthy, prosperous life.
Through Phelps’ story, we all start to understand how human trafficking exists and why it is so pervasive in our world today. Like all stories of trauma, it breaks your heart. But it pieces it back together again and brings you hope.
We Recommend: The Road of Lost Innocence
The final book we recommend reading in order to build a stronger understanding about the complex, global human trafficking epidemic is The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam.
This book is also a true story and first-hand account of human trafficking. Taking place in a small village deep in the forest of Cambodia, Somaly Mam was a young girl sold into sexual slavery by her grandfather at only twelve years old. For the next decade, Mam was a victim of sex trafficking, being shuttled from one brothel to another.
Though this book is written with unflinching detail about the horrors of human trafficking, the author also shares her story of using her trauma as a way to fight for the lives of other girls. She imbues the strength and resiliency of the human spirit. She emboldens and empowers every single person who read this book.
In her own words, “What you have learned from experience is worth much more than gold. If you have a house it may burn down. Any kind of possession can be lost, but your experience is yours forever. Keep it and find a way to use it.”
Somaly Mam has done just that. She has founded an organization that has saved thousands of women’s lives. Her organization has orchestrated raids in brothels and rescued women forced into sex work in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. She has built schools and shelters to help victims and prevent more victims from entering this horrific world of human trafficking.
She is truly a pillar of courage and faith that will inspire you to use your own strength to change the world.
We Recommend: Spreading the Word!
If you have read some of these books or other books about human trafficking and they have changed your life, we want to recommend the importance of spreading the word! Individually, these problems seem insurmountable. But together, we can make a difference.
As an inspiring, parting quote, Nicholas D. Kristof writes in Half the Sky, “A man goes out on the beach and sees that it is covered with starfish that have washed up in the tide. A little boy is walking along, picking them up and throwing them back into the water. ‘What are you doing, son?’ the man asks. ‘You see how many starfish there are? You’ll never make a difference.’ The boy paused thoughtfully, and picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean. ‘It sure made a difference to that one,’ he said.”