Tonight I will be addressing the City of Langley Council at City Hall. It is my opportunity to raise awareness about the issue of modern day slavery and stress the importance of advocating for social justice. As I prepare my speech for tonight I have been reflecting on where this journey and quest for social justice has taken me. Here was my speech from the Heart and Soul Speech competition portion of the Miss BC Pageant:
“All that is nessecary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing.”
This statement by Edmund Burke changed my life. It woke me up to realize that I have the opportunity to be a part of something much greater than myself. I respect the men and women who saw the reality of injustices in the world and stood against them to make a change. When pressured to bend in their convictions, these people never backed down. I look up to the heros of human rights such as William Wilberforce, who fought to abolish slavery within the British Empire in the 1700s or Somaly Mam, a modern day trafficking survivor from Cambodia who focuses on rescuing victims of human sex trafficking and educating others so that they will not be vulnerable to exploitation.
In 1948 the United Nations Article 4 of the Declaration of Human Rights banned slavery throughout the entire world. It states that “no one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms”. However, a conservitive estimate by Dr. Kevin Bales, President of the US Free the Slaves organization, states that 27 million people are currently living around the world in circumstances indistinguishable from slavery, 50% of whom are children. By this count, there are more slaves living in the world today than at any other point in time.
The US state Department of Justice has found that “Human trafficking is the second largest organized crime in the world. It has become a larger business than drug trafficking and generates close to $31.6 billion a year.”
In Canada, we have the resources and the moral responsibility to end human trafficking in our world forever. Human trafficking is an international problem and no country is immune. Craig Kielburger, Canadian Human rights activist and founder of “Free the Children” and “Me to We”, states that ” it is easier to be ignorant and say I don’t know about the problem. But once you know then you have the responsibility to do something. There is strength in numbers, and if we all work together as a team, we can be unstoppable.”
I cannot stand by and allow the triumph of evil. The enormity and serious circumstances of this social injustice can no longer be ignored. We must protect the vulnerable from exploitation because the value of a human life is not a commodity that can be bought or sold. I am Tara Teng and this is my passion and motivation in life.
The time in now to stand up to injustice! Please pray for the City Council meeting tonight and that Canadians will begin to stand together as we defend the cause of the oppressed and exploited. We must answer their cry- lives depend on it!