My Freeset Bag

How to Help Women Break Free – Just Getting Started

This is a follow-up to my earlier post, A Passion Found – Ending Human Trafficking, detailing how I found out about human trafficking and it’s role in my community. At the meeting I attended I couldn’t help but sign up to volunteer for just about everything they were looking for, but until I hear back from them I have been looking for other ways to get involved sooner.

1. I bought a Freeset bag. They were selling these at the presentation. The bags are jute, high quality, and come in a variety of styles. They are made by Freeset, a company based in Calcutta, India. They also produce 100% FLO (Fair Trade Labeling Organizations) Certified organic cotton tee-shirts. From their website: “Freeset is a fair trade business offering employment to women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. We make quality jute bags and organic cotton t-shirts, but our business is freedom! We would like to see the 10,000 sex workers in our neighborhood empowered with the choice of leaving a profession they never chose in the first place.” Please look at the website and read more about their story and philosophy; I was blown away by their holistic approach to helping women break free from the sex trade in Calcutta. Not only do they offer the women a job, they also pay them twice the going wage for similar work, provide health insurance, training, financial and budgeting advice, childcare during working hours, literacy classes and retirement plans. They are also members of Fair Trade Federation (US based organization) and The World Fair Trade Organization. Their bags can be purchased at Better Way Imports, Tote Bags Direct, and Justice Ventures International (25% off Freeset bags until September 30, 2011). They also have a larger list of global vendors here. I plan to purchase these bags as Christmas gifts this year!

2. I’ve started reading the book Not For Sale – The Return of the Global Slave Trade and How We Can Fight It by David Batstone. I was hesitant at first because I wasn’t entirely certain I could, or wanted to, handle 276 pages of stories of abuse – that’s a lot of negativity to bring in to your life. I’m glad that I bought the book anyway. So far I’m on page 51 and so far it’s been focusing more on those who have taken a stand and the stories of successful activists/abolitionists working in Thailand and Burma to free children and women from the sex trade. It’s not depressing at all, it’s energizing and inspiring. $10.19 at Amazon.com or $14.99 direct from the Not For Sale Store.

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