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Why do we think employment is key in the fight against human trafficking?

by | Mar 31, 2017

I have heard it said that you will spend one third of your life working, one third of your life sleeping, and the other third of your life getting ready to go to work or sleep. Of course there are many other things that make up life, but it seems where we work and the work we do has a significant impact on our lives.

One of the first questions people ask each other when they are getting to know each other is, “what do you do?” And the response is usually what the person does for a job day to day. We identify ourselves so much with what we do and can find a great sense of self-worth and purpose in a supportive and healthy work environment.

So at Rethreaded, we asked, how can we seek to empower survivors and fight to break the cycle of the sex trade without considering this vital element? We can have and provide services focused on rescue, rehabilitation and restoration for survivors. We can meet their basic needs of housing, personal items, treatment and counseling, but then what? Once these programs come to end, what is the next course of action for these women?

For many survivors of the sex trade, across the nation and overseas, employment is a challenging issue. 90% of women stuck in the cycle of the sex trade remain there because they don’t have access to services and job opportunities. For the survivors who are able to escape and receive services, many have criminal histories, little or no work experience, and lack of self-worth, so they find themselves with no viable employment options. All of these factors can lead survivors back into the same vulnerabilities that led them to exploitation and trafficking in the first place.

When you economically empower a woman, you are taking away the vulnerabilities that made her susceptible to exploitation in the first place. At Rethreaded, this is how we believe the cycle is most easily broken. Survivors often come to us without the ability to dream for themselves again. We believe one key way to develop their self-worth and give them hope again is to give them viable and creative employment. This is not a short-term solution or charity. Our goal is to invest in survivors for at least three to five years by training them in a job that can lead to a career. We do this by helping a woman discover her natural capabilities and building on those in an area of the company (production, sales, marketing, admin/finance or inventory) with which she can thrive.

We are already seeing the success of this model. Women who have been at Rethreaded for as short as six months are becoming whole in ways they never imagined possible. We are seeing these women advocate for each other; we are seeing these women reshape the culture that helped keep them trapped in the cycle.

The additional benefit is that building a woman’s confidence in her role not only affects her. She is learning how her job and what she does can have an incredible impact on the business, on the community and most important to our model — it can pave the way for the next survivor’s success and healing.

We know that you can’t start a new life without a new job. This is why we focus on employment, why we focus on business, because we are watching the cycle being broken, not slowed down, or stalled, but BROKEN. It’s an investment that has immeasurable huge returns.

However you engage with us, whether you buy and rock a Grace Scarf or Threads for Hope Bracelet, whether you give to the Survivor Development Program, or share this blog with your friends, you are being a part of truly changing a woman’s life. Be someone who believes in second chances.

In Hope,

Kristin Keen



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