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Today’s slavery
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Today’s slavery

Reading the article about the Robbins family from Verona who are fighting human trafficking in Ghana to free child slaves is inspiring (“Family on a mission to free child slaves,”March 15). But it also touches a chord of disbelief. To think that modern-day slavery still exists in this world is a shocking thought to us all.

However, not only does it still exist, it exists in our own backyard. New Jersey is one of the worst states in this country for human trafficking. It not only permeates the sex trade, but also lives in the workplace — beauty parlors and nail and hair-braiding salons — and in our neighbors’ homes, where domestic help can be modern-day slaves.

And please do not believe that it is just foreign women who are being brought to the United States to be trafficked. The truth is, human traffickers are taking children out of our local schools and involving them in this despicable, shocking, and sleazy underground world. This is simply unacceptable.

Three years ago the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New Jersey began awarding grants to the Polaris Project in Newark, one of the very few human trafficking intervention groups in the country. JWF, which is an advisory council of the Jewish Community Foundation of MetroWest NJ, continues to support the Polaris Project.

JWF with the Community Relations Committee of MetroWest and Central NJ have brought together a coalition of organizations that have begun to collaborate on facing this problem head on and abolishing the issue of slavery once and for all. This coalition is also reaching out to educate friends and neighbors, organizations, and special-interest groups about human trafficking. Our goal is to make people aware of the issue locally and offer ways to become involved in the solution, from the grass-roots level up. We will also include law enforcement, the legislature, and the health-care community in these advocacy efforts.

Learn more about this very real problem and become part of the solution. Attend the Polaris Project’sfirst Human Trafficking — Training Summit for Community Collaboration, of which UJC MetroWest is a cosponsor. The summit will take place 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Friday, March 30, at the Alex Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus in Whippany.

Visit our website to register and learn how you can help bring slavery to an end so we can proudly say, “Slavery — not in our backyard!”

Jocelyn Gilman
Director
Jewish Women's Foundation of New Jersey

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