Stars Shine to Fight Human Trafficking
February 21, 2006
Performers Stacy Francis and James Barbour opened a memorable evening at the home of actress Anne Archer and her husband, sports producer Terry Jastrow, in Brentwood, California to raise awareness and funds for the growing problem of human trafficking in the United States. The gourmet dinner for a select one hundred and twenty guests was co-chaired by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and his wife, Carol. Over $50,000 was raised for Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI), the beneficiary of the evening, for their 2006 world tour and education program called 30 Days – 30 Schools – 30 Rights. YHRI combats human trafficking by teaching youth around the world the rights guaranteed under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Besides entertainment, the evening consisted of video presentations on the growing problem of human trafficking and the work of Youth for Human Rights International around the world.
Human trafficking is a crime in which force, fraud, or deception is used against victims, usually women or children, who are moved from poor environments to more affluent ones for the sole purpose of economic exploitation such as prostitution or forced labor.
Screenwriter Agatha Dominik, of the acclaimed TV mini-series Human Trafficking, provided a five minute clip of the series and startling statistics about the growing prevalence of the problem which she termed “modern slavery.” Although not able to attend, she provided a moving statement, read by Anne Archer, which disclosed that there are now 20,000 women and girls literally enslaved in the United States and that over 800,000 individuals annually are smuggled across international borders for such economic gain. Human trafficking is now the second most profitable criminal industry in the country behind drug trafficking.
Mary Shuttleworth, a native of South Africa and founder of Youth for Human Rights International, spoke about her work to teach youth human rights over the last five years. She said that children and adults are powerless to fight such things as human trafficking if they don't even know they have these rights.
To ensure this education is made available, Youth for Human Rights International, with the assistance of the Human Rights Department of the Church of Scientology, published a booklet in nineteen languages entitled “What are Human Rights?” Hundreds of thousands of copies have been distributed across five continents. They also produced the human rights music video, UNITED, which has now won nine international awards including the Grand Jury Award at the New York International Film and Video Festival and the Best Human Rights Film at the Italian Taglia Corto International Film Festival. Over the last five years, it is estimated that 70 million people have been reached through YHRI programs.
For 2006, Youth for Human Rights International will be conducting their third world tour, where they will visit 30 schools in 15 cities around the world to disseminate their human rights education program. A primary element of the tour is a series of 30 second human rights public service announcements for television, each of which focuses on one of the 30 rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The first three PSAs are now running in cities on five continents.
“Human rights are a vague, even non-existent concept for most of the world’s population. Establishing human rights, promoting them and protecting them are among the most difficult and enduring tasks of our time.” says Mary Shuttleworth. “As L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Scientology religion, stated: 'Human rights must be made a reality.' That is what we are working towards.”