Human trafficking is the second most lucrative crime in the world, of which 45 million people are victims. In 2002, Martin visited India and witnessed firsthand the horrors of human trafficking, as he rescued three trembling girls living on the street of Calcutta in plastic bags. They were going to be sold into prostitution – one of the many facets of this organized crime.
Martin knew that turning a blind eye to this crime would make him an accomplice. For more than a decade, his public charity has been advocating in international forums, providing education in the communities, training different audiences into becoming modern day abolitionists, and performing academic research to better understand the magnitude of this crime in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
Academic research enables the organization to educate and sensitize society with the hopes of preventing more people from falling victim to this crime. It also spurs public policy into action and social impact in vulnerable communities.
Uncovering the invisible
The invisible truth is that human trafficking is everywhere. Today there are more slaves today than ever before in the history of humankind. This crime generates approximately $150 billion a year. In 2010, after publishing our first investigation, the amount was only $32 billion.
Fieldwork with UNICEF in refugee camps, humanitarian visits in Cambodia, research in Puerto Rico, collaboration with other modern-day abolitionists in Latin America and national organizations have taught us that in order to prevent, protect and empower one of the most vulnerable populations – children and youth – we need to educate them. Human trafficking is one of the most vicious violations against human rights, and no one is excluded.
Social transformation is only achieved by accepting the existence of this invisible truth and by uniting forces against the unscrupulous traffickers.
We have raised awareness after natural disasters when this crime spikes such as the tsunami in Thailand, the earthquake in Haiti and most recently in Puerto Rico after the devastation of hurricanes Maria and Irma. We are rebuilding homes in Loíza, Puerto Rico, where our headquarters are located and where Centro Tau offers a myriad of community services to the families in order to rebuild from within with resiliency. The City of New York recently declared June 7 as Ricky Martin Day to make his fight visible.
What we can do
Every year we offer more than 300 conferences about human trafficking. February in Puerto Rico became the anti-trafficking month after we launch our pioneer investigation. For the past three years, volunteers trained by our team seize the opportunity to educate high schoolers with our Schools of Light program. We also train social workers, government officials, community leaders, teachers and allies to further advance this fight.
As we celebrate the Hispanic Heritage Month, we are grateful to our allies in social justice, Hispanics in Philanthropy and to the Hispanic Federation. Together we hope to offer “I am Little Red,” an 8-minute animated film, to prevent youngsters from falling prey to sexual exploitation. Proud of our heritage and language, we translated their curriculum to enable new generations into becoming fearless.
Our voice and their knowledge will make the crime visible and condemned.