SEATTLE - On National Human Trafficking Awareness Day (January 11th), ethical beauty retailer, The Body Shop, alongside campaign partners ECPAT USA and The Somaly Mam Foundation, will hand over petition signatures of more than 720,000 U.S. citizens to the President of the National Association of Attorneys General, AG Rob McKenna. The petition demonstrates widespread public concern on the sex trafficking crisis affecting children and young people here in the U.S. and across the world.
Nearly three-quarters of a million signatures were collected at boutiques of The Body Shop in the U.S and online at www.thebodyshop.com over the course of 12 months.
Representatives of The Body Shop USA together with NGO partners ECPAT USA and the Somaly Mam Foundation will gather outside of The Body Shop Pacific Place (600 Pine Street, Seattle, WA 98101) to meet with AG McKenna.
"I'm inspired by the commitment demonstrated by The Body Shop, its associates and its customers to raise awareness in the fight against human trafficking," said AG Rob McKenna, President of the National Association of Attorneys General. "This action demonstrates to trafficking victims across the nation, around the world -and right here in Seattle--that there is hope, people care, and we want to help. It also sends a 'zero-tolerance' message to those who would exploit and enslave fellow human beings.
Thank you to The Body Shop for your efforts to raise awareness and generate funds to assist the Somaly Mam Foundation and ECPAT in rescuing victims and restoring their lives."
"Sex trafficking is an issue that overwhelmingly affects young women and girls. As a beauty brand dedicated to serving women across America, this was an issue we couldn't ignore, and we knew our customers would want to be part of the solution. Campaigning is in the DNA of The Body Shop and it's what makes our company unique. This campaign is critically important, as children and young people represent the future of our society and protecting them should be a top priority for governments around the world," says Shelley Simmons, Director of Values for The Body Shop. "We are overwhelmed by our customers' strong support for action to combat this modern form of slavery. These 720,000 signatures collected show once again Americans will not tolerate such an abuse of human rights."
"It has been a remarkable experience to work with The Body Shop in this campaign. Everyone poured their heart and soul into gathering signatures and helping to grow the movement to protect children from sexual exploitation in the United States. This was a little-known problem before. But the campaign has truly raised a tidal wave of awareness to help our advocacy for laws and policies to protection children," says Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT USA.
"The Body Shop's campaign has been a critical element of the Somaly Mam Foundation's outreach and education efforts," says Rigmor Schneider, interim Executive Director of the Somaly Mam Foundation. "We thank the company for their dedication to this initiative, both as a company and as individual staff who have shown personal commitment and activism. Our shared vision of a world without slavery begins with calling for proper legislation and victim protection, both in the U.S. and abroad, and this petition is an historic step toward achieving this vision."
Since 2009, The Body Shop USA has worked in partnership with ECPAT USA and the Somaly Mam Foundation to raise awareness on the plight of children who are trafficked for sex.
This effort has been a part of a global campaign of The Body Shop International, which has already delivered more than seven million signatures supporting an international call for action to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on September 29, 2011.
Facts about sex trafficking of children and young people:
- Human trafficking is the third-largest(1) and fastest-growing criminal industry(2) in the world.
- 1.2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade (this figure is thought to be much higher due to the underground dealings of the traffickers(3).)
- Reports show that sexual exploitation is the most likely purpose of trafficking(4).Trafficking exists in countries all over the world. It doesn't only exist in the poorest countries(5). (sources:1-5 UNICEF)
Contact: Janelle Guthrie, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725