Mandolyn Orrell | What the modern-day abolitionist movement needs to succeed

This week we have been given an assignment to write a blog post that explores and analyzes the statement::  What the modern-day abolitionist movement needs to succeed is….


Hmmm… that is such an involved statement.  This will be a bit of a ‘stream of consciousness’ type of post.


First, I want to say that the movement has come a long way in the 20 years it has been around.  It took 10 years to pass the TVPA, which is much faster than it has taken any other human rights movements to pass legislation.  The awareness campaigns from different NGO’s have done a great job at spreading the word about the issue of human trafficking, and it has become a recognisable term in most western societies.  However, that cannot be the end.  We cannot continue to do the same things we have always done, or nothing will get done.


Not For Sale focuses on being innovative.  We constantly strive to be better this week than we were last week.  We must be creative and innovative in our thoughts and ideas on how to combat the global issue of slavery.  For 20 years, the movement has been focused primarily on the rescue aspect, or the awareness aspect, of the issue.  Not For Sale is focusing on going upstream, to the prevention aspect of the issue.  Creating social enterprises that create futures for vulnerable people in poor countries/communities is something Not For Sale prides itself on, and rightfully so.  However, that also cannot be the end.  It is a solution, but one organisation, especially one that is 4 years old, cannot create futures for every vulnerable person in the world.  Not For Sale, like all organisations, focus on a doing a few restoration/enterprise projects, and doing them well.  Again, very admirable and honorable.  Again, NFS cannot end slavery on its own.  This is a global issue that needs collaboration from all groups.


Idealistically, I would say that for the fight against modern-day slavery to succeed, there needs to be less “co-opetition” and more collaboration amongst all of the organisations.  Most of the anti-human trafficking organisations that I know of are doing a few projects, and doing them well.  We need to drop our pride, fight for funding, thinking our ideas are the only acceptable ones– and start to realise that each organisation, and each person, has unique skill sets and gifts that can/will make a difference in the movement.  NFS is business oriented– awesome.  Bring that to the table.  IJM is rescue and legal issues focused– awesome.  Bring that to the table.  You know?


Why can’t we all do projects together?  Instead of a NFS project, IJM project, Free the Slaves project, etc in the same country…. why can’t we collectively partner together, and combat the issue holistically in that country, as one unified project… working together using each groups specialised focus.  Yes, I know that this is extremely idealistic, and probably never going to happen.  Here’s to dreaming….


The issue is not just with NGO’s, though.  The issue is also with governments.  We need governments to take the issue of human trafficking and modern-day slavery seriously.  I can only speak about the US and Korean governments, because those are all I have even a tiny understanding about.  The way the US government (as a whole) addresses the issue of human trafficking is a joke.  The US government spends over 3 TIMES as much on the war against drugs in ONE DAY than it spends on fighting human trafficking in ONE YEAR.  Seriously.  That is pathetic.  I am sure that someone will say that there are lots of politics involved, which gets messy, so that’s why human trafficking is just kind of the elephant in the room type of topics for the US government.  That shouldn’t be the case.  This is a bipartisan issue.  Though, I understand that this issue is closely related to the immigration issue, and most conservatives are sticklers for strict immigration policies.  I understand how this could get messy.  But hasn’t anyone thought of ways to fix this issue?  Why can’t lawmakers and politicians drop their pride and realise that their constant argue and lack of effective actions are adversely affecting millions of innocent and vulnerable people, mainly women and children??  There has to be a way to address the issue of immigration that will serve these vulnerable people better, and still be as effective as conservatives would like.  It would probably have to end in a compromise on both sides of the political spectrum.


There are so many other issues like this that I see in the abolitionist movement of today that frustrate and discourage me to no end.  My hope– my vision–  for the future of the abolitionist movement is so big, just like everyone else who is a part of the movement.  My ideals are sky high, and I’m learning, are probably unrealistic without significant changes in the government and NGO procedures.  I am quickly learning to drop my ideals, that they will just lead to disappointment and frustration, and that I am not going to be able to save everyone.  I am learning that if I can impact even the life of one person, help one person out of bondage, then that is a victory.  I will celebrate the victories… every victory.


One response to “Mandolyn Orrell | What the modern-day abolitionist movement needs to succeed

  1. Great analysis Mandolyn! Yes, we need to drop our egos, but not our ideals. We will only succeed if we dream big and ACT big. Celebrate the small victories – as they will lead to big victories.

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