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Human Trafficking Awareness Day – Jan. 11

In acknowledgment of Human Trafficking Awareness Day, the Alliance of Leadership & Innovation for Victims of Exploitation (ALIVE), embraces victims and survivors of human trafficking. ALIVE’S founder, Melinda Metz has a saying, “It’s about saving lives.”

Victims and survivors want and deserve a chance to start, or restart, their lives after exploitation. The opportunity to have healthy choices, to feel alive, free, liberated.

Throughout history many courageous abolitionists have battled the business model of slavery. While this human atrocity remains in its evolved form, ALIVE’s Mission is “dedicated to ending sex trafficking in the Black community, by leveraging awareness and prevention through innovative solution-focused events.”  Our Vision, “To behold a Black Community free from sex trafficking and exploitation.”   

Women and girls of color continue to be disproportionately impacted by the sex trade. Their vulnerabilities, a result of structural violence, including poverty, homelessness, lack of education and over-sexualization at an early age, make them targets for exploitation, as well as increasing the chances they will be arrested for their own victimization.

According to Johan Galtung, “structural violence” is an avoidable impairment of fundamental human needs. He introduced the term in the article “Violence, Peace and Peace Research” in 1969. It refers to a form of violence where some social structure or social institution may harm people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs.

Paul Farmer defines it as “one way of describing social arrangements that put individuals and populations in harms way… The arrangements are structural because they are embedded in the political and economic organization of our social world; they are violent because they cause injury to people… neither culture nor pure individual is at fault; rather historically given (and often economically driven) processes and forces conspire to constrain individual agency. Structural Violence is visited upon all those whose social status denies them access to the fruits of scientific and social progress.”

ALIVE exists to address the root cause of exploitation as it manifests in the Black community, embedded in society due to structural violence. Our Purpose is “To respond to the impact and ongoing harm of exploitation, address cultural barriers and collaborate to heal a hurting community. By hosting and/or collaborating in large and small-scale events, ALIVE educates communities of color, and society at large, about the urban experience in the sex trade.”

While Alive is headquartered in Houston, Texas, we have a national platform. Our impact has recently been felt on Capitol Hill. Our Co-Founder, Rev. Dr. Marian Hatcher, a survivor leader, testified before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee this past Spring and was the inspiration for, and a contributor to, the Debt Bondage Repair Act (DBRA) (McHenry Applauds Inclusion of Debt Bondage Repair Act in NDAA | Financial Services Committee Republicans – house.gov), which passed as a part of the Annual National Defense Authorization Act 2022. Signed into law by President Biden, Monday December 27, 2021.

“The DBRA final text has the potential to help thousands of victims every year by ensuring that a consumer reporting agency may not furnish a credit report with adverse information from a severe form of trafficking.”

ALIVE will continue to fight for each victim to become a survivor, a champion, so their future and that of their families, is full of life, purpose, happiness, dignity and respect.

Posted by Melinda Metz, Founder & Executive Director of ALIVE & Rev. Dr. Marian Hatcher, Co-Found of ALIVE on 11 Jan 2022