Social Oppression is unfairly treating a person or group of people who are different from other people or groups of people. A few examples of social oppression include racism (treating people different based on their skin color or ethnicity), sexism (treating people different based on their gender), religious persecution (treating people different because of their religion.) and economic oppression. (treating people different based on their income.)
With this definition and shared understanding of Social Oppression we find deep roots of social oppression lie in the world of trafficking. Trafficking is a rapidly growing issue affecting every corner of the globe.
Trafficking thrives in communities where there is instability. Factors such as a lack of food, water, education and infrastructure all create the vulnerability needed for traffickers to exploit the most vulnerable and valuable to them, children. Globally, as we work with women rescued from these horrors the story of their trafficking all have common threads and themes, a lack of food, a need to provide for their family, abuse that started in the home, sudden tragedy-like a natural disaster, and no one to care for them.
There is a direct correlation between trafficking and social oppression. In our shared definition of social oppression, we find four examples of social oppression: racism, sexism, religious persecution and economic oppression. Even as I type that list story after story, community after community come to mind where we can see examples of each of these areas at work to create vulnerability, put children at-risk and ultimately lead to children being trafficked; their childhood lost, the trajectory of their life, altered.
Working in anti-trafficking efforts, there are common misconceptions that arise from communities. One that we hear often is a version of the concept “If some girls aren’t kept for “this work” then our girls (daughters, sisters, mothers, cousins, friends…) won’t be safe to walk the streets.” This concept, put in such blunt terms is hard to stomach, however we hear watered down versions of it all the time, and the truth is, this is oppression. Oppression believes that there are acceptable reasons why someone should be treated differently. To counter this, we must respond with a heart of unity which declares “if it’s not okay for my daughter, sister, cousin, friend….it’s not okay for anyone.” Until we can look in our own world and see everyone as equal, this concept of social oppression will continue to prevail.
As we continue to explore the topic of social oppression and use the information to educate those around us, we find that this topic is so big. The problems of social oppression cannot be solved through a blog. Social oppression is systemic and culturally ingrained. Ending slavery, doesn't just happen through story telling, it requires action.
What will you do?
Learn More about Trafficking and Social Oppression