May 31, 2011

human trafficking does exist


Last night, there was an expose on live cattle trafficking from Australia to Indonesia on ABC1 program Four Corners. I didn't watch the program, but this is what I have discovered. Thousands of cattle are sent by ship to Indonesia, where they are fattened and then sent to the slaughter. 500,000 cattle are sent to Indonesia each year due to such a high demand for beef. The trade values at $300 million. The cows are kept in atrocious conditions; they are abused and then die slow and hideous deaths.

I understand that it is shocking and somewhat controversial. According to an ABC News article, the Australian government is now considering banning live animal exports. As of yet, I don't know where I stand with this issue. What I do know is that a nation is in uproar about a trafficking trade worth $300 million, with 500,000 victims. The outrage has been expressed through all kinds of social networking and media. But there is another trade that I know about. One that earns $32 BILLION per year. One that has 27 MILLION victims.

Human trafficking.

Slavery exists. Let me reiterate those statistics. Every year 27 million people are sold. Sold. That's more than the every person in Australia. 1.4 million of those are sold into slavery for the sex trade. 800,000 women and girls are trafficked across international borders. They are kidnapped, taken to foreign countries and are repeatedly raped and beaten. Sexual exploitation alone generates $27.8 billion a year. Somebody becomes a victim every 30 seconds.

I understand that it all sounds like numbers. If it does, watch this and this. What we have got to realise is that while 27 million victims sounds colossal, we have to look at them one by one. It could be your sister, your brother, your parent, your neighbour, your child or even you. Every 1 in that 27 million counts.

So while people in Australia are fretting about the horrible treatment of cows, millions of people are imprisoned in a trade that they in no way asked for. During the 45 minutes of the report about the cattle trade, 90 people were victimised into trafficking. I'm not saying that treating animals badly is okay. Because it's not. What I'm saying is that it is so bloody ridiculous that 500,000 cows is a big deal when there are 27 million humans in a far worse situation. People are more important.

The issue of human trafficking can sound a bit exaggerated, but it's true. Too true even. For anyone who has seen the movie Taken, about a man who hunts down the traffickers of his daughter, that is an accurate representation of what happens. I heard a true story about a man, while on a mission trip in India, whose taxi driver took a turn down a wrong street. The street happened to be where a large amount of sex trade was partaking. In rows and stacked up on the sides of the street were girls, of all ages, naked and in cages.
This is real.

The worst part of all in this horrible issue is that only 1% of victims are rescued. And only 1 out of every 100,000 traffickers are convicted for their crime. Human trafficking thrives in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and is not seen as a present issue Australia. Perhaps that is why the government sees no reason to create awareness for it. But it is an issue for Australia. Just because we don't think we live in close proximity to an issue, does not mean that we ignore it.

The A21 Campaign is an organisation that was "born with the decision of ordinary people taking the responsibility for human trafficking." They are passionate towards creating awareness and doing absolutely everything they can to minimise human trafficking. They describe the trafficking trade as the 'modern day Holocaust.'

A couple of hours ago I posted this on Facebook: "I don't know much about the live cattle trade, but I know that there have been 27 million victims of slavery, 1.4 million of those into the sex trade. It's horrendous. People are more important. Do something about that first." I was encouraged to see someone else repost this.

I truly believe that people are more important. All people are important. Take responsibility for human trafficking. Because I don't know about you, but it disgusts me. It makes me sick that this is happening in the world we live in. In the 21st century, after centuries of conflicts and the fight for freedom, we are still fighting. If we don't speak up, no one will. There are 27 million people without a voice. And they need our help.

May 26, 2011

if the shoe fits


Ah, shoesssssssssssssssss. That's my inward, if not outward, reaction to shoes. I melt like butter on hot toast when I see a pair of delectably attractive footwear. I suppose it's a tad crazy that something you wear on your feet can evoke such a reaction, but it does nonetheless. There are countless times that I've been shopping and have immediately stopped, my companion steps ahead, because a pair of shoes have caught my eye. Sorry to be frivolous, but I love shoes. That's not to say I love all of them. I am incredibly bias and even derogatory towards some footwear. There are some damn ugly shoes out there. Sneakers, although serving a good purpose, are not attractive, especially when teamed with jeans. I'm not a fan of platform heels, or thigh high boots, or loafers. The new boot trend that's going around doesn't particularly tickle my fancy either. The list could go on. Style is not the only issue, as both colour and texture can make or break the beauty of a shoe.

For one who claims to love shoes so much, I don't actually have that many. 22 pairs in total, but it seems like a lot less to me, as I probably don’t wear half of them. My absolute favourite pair of shoes I own are my teal high top Converses with the yellow laces. My brother bought them for me for my 14th birthday and I have worn them so often that they are incredibly comfortable. I love Converses a lot. I have a pair brown suede lace-up ankle boots that my friend Lizzy bought me on a rainy day when I was wearing inappropriate footwear and was running the risk of getting hypothermia. I never liked suede shoes before and now do very much indeed. I also have a pair or red-ish coloured flats that my parents bought me a couple of years back which are beautiful. Do you see a reoccurring theme here? I do. I'm currently saving up for
this pair of Dr. Martens, and if you buy them, I will kill you.

I'm a budget shopper in every way possible, which sometimes includes footwear. But I can merit more than a hundred bucks being spent on love for your feet. One day I hope I have places to go other than school that deserve more interesting and classier footwear. I don't think a person can ever have too many shoes. You can't say that they are pointless or worthless, because everyone needs to wear shoes. Otherwise splinters would become a pretty big issue. Shoes are a staple in every ones wardrobe. Shoes can make a person feel much better about themself. As long as they're comfortable. I loathe uncomfortable shoes. Practicality, as well as style, are just as important when dressing your feet.

May 21, 2011

got any change?


My friends and I sit in the same spot at school every day. Mornings, recess, lunch and free lines, five days a week. However, the other day when we went to our spot, we found it blocked off with a sign from the principal informing us that it would be closed until further notice. At first we were all a bit confused. I at first blamed my friends who just the day before were rather enjoying spear tackling one another in that very place. But then some random ran up and told us that teachers had found a picture of someone planking on the edge of the wall. Letting you know that on the other side of that wall is about a four storey drop to a busy road. Not the smartest idea. With our usual spot taken we were all a bit lost. We wandered with forlorn looks on our faces and tried to find another place with room for twenty people to plonk their butts.

None of us reacted very well to the change. We're now sitting somewhere else, but we all complain about it and really just want our old spot back. It's quite ridiculous that a bunch of seventeen year olds cannot cope with such a simple change as that. It was because it was an unexpected change. When you don't know that something is going to happen, you have no time to prepare yourself. And if you're not prepared, it can kind of mess you up. Some people thrive on change, others loathe it. Personally, I hate things being the same all the time. When I was younger I used to rearrange my bedroom at least once a week. I hate repeating outfits. I like to order something different each time I go to Macca's. I'm a lot like my Dad really, who likes change so much he used to get a new car every six months or so. I consider change to be a good thing.

Moving to another country when I was seven was a pretty big change. And so was moving back to Australia. I loved it. And it definitely helped me grow as a person. I hate to think where my life would be now if that hadn't have happened. Don't fear change. Change changes us. It makes us stronger and braver and prepares for the unexpected in life. We don't just have to succumb to change. We can create it. If we don't like something, we can change it. If we want to do something else, we can do it. If we want to be someone different, we can make a change. Life is meant to be forever changing. It’d be so incredibly boring if it wasn’t. So embrace it. Don’t fear it. And be grateful that you have the power to change.

May 16, 2011

miss bitchin'

Humans usually speak before they think. That thing that we're meant to have in our brain to filter words before they come out is a total myth. In reality, what comes out of our mouth is our own responsibility. I am guilty of not watching my words. I have a bit of a reputation in saying whatever comes to mind without thinking about how my words could affect others. I have (partially) learnt to be mindful of this and to always remember the influence that my words can have. Words are powerful, and when used greatly, that power can do wonderful things, but they can damage very easily. It takes ten compliments to make up for one bad comment. Which brings me to my point.

Bitching. It's much more intentional than a slip of the tongue. It's complaining about someone or something. But usually someone. And no one likes a complainer. There is something about girls and the way it feels completely natural to talk about someone in a negative way. I do it. I bitch. Never to their face of course. And it's not good enough. We can try to justify as much as we like, but there is no excuse for being mean about someone for no reason at all. And if there is a reason, it just makes us as bad as them. I know that I personally would hate to hear people bitching about me. Especially friends. It'd probably even break my heart. Imagine how you'd feel if you overheard your friends bagging you out? And not affectionately.

I know that it's easy to bitch about someone. Especially if they are annoying or mean or incredibly selfish. But there is never any need to intentionally bring someone down. There is already so much negativity in the world and our words are just adding to it. There is so much else that we can talk about. We can talk what's happening in the world, what we want for the future or what we had for breakfast. Anything besides other people. A person who does not engage in bitchy talk is a far more genuine and trustworthy than someone who does. I think we all have far more intelligence than that. So from here on, I am going to watch my words. If you hear me being a bitch, please slap me. And I sincerely mean that. Words have too much influence to not be taken seriously.