I wear a lot of hats every day. I'm a mom, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a friend and a lot of other things. I'm a reef keeper (Saltwater Aquariums, not guarding someone's reefer stash), a hooker (I crochet...get your mind out of the gutter), and a mentor to young kids.
There are a lot of things that I do on a daily basis, and now I can add to the list. I'm a lobbyist! I know what you think of when you hear those words. You're thinking of back room deals with politicians, bought votes and dirty little ethics violations. A lot of people lobby on behalf of themselves, bills that will the improve the industry where they work or for bills that will benefit their specific interest group. I want to say right now, that I had no interest in being a lobbyist for this reason. I guess you could say I kind of fell into it.
One day the founder of The A21 Campaign was speaking at our church about human trafficking and just how big a problem it really is. She showed a video and I was so completely overwhelmed that I felt like I couldn't breathe. I just had to know everything there is to know about Human Trafficking and I had to do something about it. I started looking for facts, and what I found was sickening.
There are 27 million human trafficking victims in the world right now.
Victims are expected to service between 40 and 110 customers each day.
According to UNICEF over 2 million children are are forced into prostitution.
The average age of a sex slave in the United States is 11, and there are (estimated) over 100,000 currently.
If you read the Government Trafficking in Persons Report, you will throw up.
In my mission to find more information, I found an organization called International Justice Mission. One thing I really liked about this organization is that they are taking the fight to the perpetrators. They are in the trenches to bring justice to victims and help them recover and go on to lead productive lives. I didn't do anything major, I signed up for their newsletter and asked for more information on being a volunteer. One day this summer I got an e-mail asking if I wanted to meet with my Senators to talk about a new Senate bill, The Child Protective Compact Act (Senate Bill S3184). I signed up and almost forgot about it. Then I got this e-mail saying, "Your appointment with Blanche Lincoln's staff is scheduled for..." I got some training, went, took the co-founder of Rush Hour [Traffic] with me and had a very intelligent conversation about Human Trafficking with Ms. Lincoln's staff. A few weeks later, I got another e-mail asking when I could meet with my other Senator's staff. I went yesterday, along with another amateur lobbyist and got a very positive response from Mark Pryor's legislative aid.
It felt so empowering, and fulfilling to sit in a Senator's office and speak about an issue that is very dear to my heart. Not because I was doing anything special, but because I felt like I was really making a difference and possibly affecting some change in the world.
A year ago, I didn't even know what Human Trafficking was. This month, I proposed to two Senators (via their staff) that they Co-Sponsor a bill to help fight it. If that makes me a lobbyist, then so be it!
You can be a lobbyist too! Contact your Senator here!
If you want to know more on Human Trafficking and just how real the problem is, I have some suggested readings: