World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

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July 30th marks the United Nations World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. The international holiday is held for the purpose of educating people around the world about the gravity and prevalence of human trafficking. According to Free the Slaves, there are between 21 and 30 million men, women, and children currently enslaved. Slavery is illegal in every country; nonetheless, people are captured and sold as slaves in almost every country around the world. This makes the human trafficking industry is the second largest illegal industry in the world ranked only behind the drug trafficking industry.

Most modern-day slaves come from Eastern Europe and the global south, where high rates of poverty, low rates of literacy and education, and a lack or absence of women’s rights make millions vulnerable. However, millions of impoverished men, women, and children in wealthy nations will also fall victim to trafficking every year.

Women and girls are most frequently targeted as slaves, making up 75% of trafficked persons. Often, they are sold into the illegal sex trade, where they have no access to healthcare, wages, or education. Many of Global Goods’ partners, including Destiny Reflection, Friends International, and Borderline, work tirelessly to reduce the risk of sex trafficking in their communities.

Efforts are made around the world to end human trafficking. The first step that everyone can take in putting a stop to this illegal and inhumane business is by becoming educated about it. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Free the Slaves provide information about trafficking, and what can be done to end it. You can spread this information and show your support for victims of trafficking through UNODC’s social media campaign. And of course, you can directly support those vulnerable to trafficking, and discourage big business from using slave labor, by buying fair trade.

Kashmir Papièr Mâchè

Many of us have attempted the art of papièr mâchè, whether it be in an elementary school art class or as a fun craft project at home. The process of making papièr mâchè can be pretty messy and it doesn’t always turn out as expected! That’s why these Kashmir papièr mâchè ornaments from India and Pakistan are so amazing!

Kashmir Painted Ornament

Papièr mâchè, which is French for chewed paper, was introduced to Kashmir in the Northwestern region of India in the 15th Century by a Kashmiri prince. The prince had spent time in Samarkand in Central Asia where he was first introduced to the art, which was highly favored by Mughal Emperors.

Papièr mâchè can be comprised of cardboard or wood, but the most common material is of course paper. The process of creating papièr mâchè begins by first soaking paper in water until it disintegrates. The paper is then pounded, mixed with an adhesive solution and shaped over moulds. Paper that has been pounded to pulp results in the smoothest final product.  It is then allowed to dry and set. Once the moulds have dried, the shape is cut away from the mould in two halves and then glued together again. The surface of the papièr mâchè is then smoothed over with a piece of stone or baked clay, and then layered with pieces of tissue paper. A base colour is then applied to the surface and intricate designs are hand-painted on top of that. The object will then be sandpapered or burnished before being painted with lacquer.

What specifically defines Kashmiri papièr mâchè are the designs that decorate its surface. Red, gold and silver paint are staples of the Kashmiri style, and are usually made by grinding and soaking vegetable mineral dyes in pigment. The designs painted on the surface usually depict natural imagery such as flowers or birds, with a strong Persian influence throughout. Arabesque detailing is also quite common on Kashmiri papièr mâchè objects. This is usually painted in gold against a brown or red background depicting rose blossoms, detailed spirals and scroll work. Many small Kashmiri papièr mâchè items are accompanied by brass detailing, and larger objects usually depict illustrations of landscapes.

The intricate hand painted details on our Kashmiri Papièr mâchè ornaments make them a stand out gift. Or let these beauties adorn your tree this year, and let your commitment to fair trade shine!

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Hand Painted Star Ornament Set, Papier Mache Egg Ornament, Papier Mache Sphere Ornament

How It’s Made: Linen

Linen is made from fibers harvested from the flax plant. After the flax plants are harvested, they need to be retted to dissolve the pectin that keeps the bundles of fibers attached to the core of the stem. Retting can be done by leaving the stems exposed to the weather for several weeks (the dew and rain will remove the pectin) or by soaking the stems in a river or stream.

Once the stems are retted and the bundles are loosened, the plants are beaten with a stick or other tool to crush the tough core of the stem.

The fibers, including the linen flax, remain intact and are then drawn through a heckling comb to align all of the fibers than can be spun into cloth.

Now that you know how it’s made, check out a finished product for yourself, like this beautiful two-toned linen scarf handwoven in India!

Stories from the Brothel

Destiny Reflection is an organization in Calcutta, India that trains and employs former trafficked sex workers. Here are the stories of two of the women artisans who are now working with Destiny Reflection:

I am from a small village near Kathmandu, Nepal. My father was a poor farmer who had to support a large family. My father tried hard to marry me off but could not. I could never get any education or work.  A job offer came through and I accepted it. I did not know that I would be taken out of my country and moreover I had no geographical sense back then.

I was sold to a Nepali lady in Sonagachi, which is the largest red light area in Eastern India located in Kolkata, a metro city in India. I was too naive to even understand that I had been sold!

I did not even try to run away because I was scared of the big city and the tall buildings, which I had never seen before in my little village. I did not know where to go and how to go back home.

I had to work in the brothel for several years till I met Smarita and got a chance to develop skills in stitching and sewing of textiles. I worked extremely hard to pick up the necessary skills. I have also learned the Hindi alphabet at Destiny and I am now able to sign my name.

Just when I had thought that I would have to rot in the brothel forever, Destiny happened to discover me and became my pillar of support.

I wish that all women like me get a chance to live a dignified life. Now I don’t live in the brothel anymore. I have a decent and dignified earning option. I stay in a ladies’ hostel and support myself. My mission is to work and help Destiny grow bigger and also to visit my village in Nepal which I had left 20 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hail from a very small village in West Bengal’s Nadia district. My father was extremely poor and supported the family as a daily laborer working in rented land.  Since childhood I used to help my father with his work.

When I was around 13 or 14 I started working with a lady from our neighborhood helping her make necklaces. Even though I worked very hard, I was paid extremely low and the money I earned was hardly enough to sustain my family. The lady told me that she had another job opportunity for me in Mumbai where I would be paid well and hence that would solve the family’s financial crisis. My father believed the lady and sent me to her.  Later I realized that she had sold me to a brothel in Mumbai, which is at least 2000 km away from my home and the people spoke in a different language. I was put up with many young girls, some even younger than me. I still had no clue or idea of what they were going to do with me. The building was dark and full of hidden chambers, where they used to hide the girls when there were police raids or maybe just to punish them.

I remember that I kept on crying for days.  One of the inmate girls told me that crying won’t help and that I would have to accept this life. I lost hope of being rescued because I noticed that the girls who got away kept coming back—which happens when the traffickers bribe the police. 

But one day I got rescued by a team of men who were from the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) after which I was put in a shelter home. I then had to fight my case in court and face the trauma of being diagnosed with HIV. I thought that I would have to spend my entire life in a shelter and I would die because of my disease.

But my life has changed since I joined Destiny; I am an independent woman now. I have been able to move out of the shelter home to a women’s hostel. I still remember the faces of the little girls who used to be locked in the dark chambers during police raids and the torture and inhuman life of the brothels.

 My only mission now is to help Destiny grow bigger and create work opportunity for many other girls like me so that they can start their life again. I have regained a positive outlook towards life and I am confident that I can overcome any problems.

Support Destiny Reflection and see the amazing products the women are making.