While many believe slavery is something found only in history books, there are a group of modern-day abolitionists who are fighting human trafficking, child prostitution and other forms of abuse and exploitation of women and children that occur today.
Nearly 18,000 victims are trafficked to the U.S. Oakland has seen some of the worst cases of child prostitution in the country. According to NPR news, in 2003, the FBI called Oakland a “high-intensity child-prostitution area.”
One of these modern abolitionists who is working in the Oakland community is Toshonna Ross and her organization Courageous Women.
“The community needs to be educated,” said Ross.” We need to draw on law enforcement, healthcare officials, school districts to come together and create stronger networks and create a relationship with the community because most people don’t know.”
Courageous Women will be celebrating its 4th anniversary on Saturday, July 21 at the Piedmont Veteran’s Memorial Building, 401 Highland Ave. in Oakland.
Ross says the anniversary is not simply a celebration of the organization but also an opportunity to make people aware of what needs to be done to help women and children in the community.
“Many reasons victims are involved in prostitution are because of basic survival after abandonment, drug abuse and the promise of a better life by older men or boyfriends who young women trusted. The very same thing is happening around the world,” she said.
Jane Anyango, founder of Kibera Women for Peace & Fairness, contacted Ross because young girls in Kenya were facing similar issues.
“A lot of human trafficking is happening in Kibera, a poor area of Kenya,” said Ross.
”Girls as young as 10 are being promised by older men to take them to the bigger city so they can bring soap, medicine, and other basic needs back to their families,” said Ross. Courageous Women is planning to build a support center for young girls in Kibera who are victims of sex-trafficking and other abuse.
Jane Anyango will be this year’s guest speaker at the anniversary event, which also will also feature a documentary, spoken word and a praise dance.
“I want people to be angry, sad and ready,” Ross said. “I want people willing to get up and take action.”
For information call (510) 273-2412 or visit www.courageouswomen.org.