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Can you believe there are over 30 million human slaves in the world TODAY?! And no, this statistic is not even referring to underpaid workers or employees at unethical organizations. We mean slaves – people who are owned by other people and forced to work without pay. Countries such as India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Myanmar, Dominican Republic of the Congo, and Bangladesh account for approximately 76% of the world’s population of enslaved persons, but slavery might not be as distant as you think… Between 14,500 and 17,500 people (primarily women and children) are trafficked into the United States every year to work as slaves. How have we not noticed these people suffering?! Perhaps we need to open our eyes and minds a little wider…
Slavery is not the only human injustice compromising peace throughout our global communities. Racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, classism, speciesism, and other discriminatory “isms” of privilege, power, and difference continue to unfortunately be perpetuated. However, with increased awareness and constructive discussions on these topics, improvements have been made. There are many other human rights issues that too should not be ignored, including food insecurity, child labor, domestic violence, sexual abuse, bullying, unfair pay, controversy of imprisonment and the death penalty, and many others.
There are exceptional videos that emphasize cruelties to humans that occurred throughout history, including Shoah (1985) and Night and Fog (1955), documentaries focusing on the horrors of Hitler’s Holocaust, 12 Years a Slave (2013), a movie based on a true pre-Civil War story of a man abducted from New York and sold into slavery, and Norma Rae, a film promoting empowerment for women. It is certainly important to be aware of horrific historical events against humanity, though many human rights violations are not a thing of the past. They are happening right now.
The term, “humane” has denoted a rather paradoxical meaning in recent years (e.g. humane slaughter), but we like to believe “humane” signifies emphasis on the most compassionate qualities of human beings. Let’s be compassionate and help our fellow humans by learning more about our own specie’s suffering. Watch these videos and find out how they might change your perspective of today’s human rights.
1. Into the Abyss
A man kills his wife…should he live or die? Into the Abyss took place in Conroe, Texas, neighboring the town called Cut and Shoot (no joke). It examines the psychology behind killing and why some people and some states believe they have authority in ending peoples’ lives. According to Rotten Tomatoes’ tomatometer (the percentage of critics who gave the movie a positive review), the documentary, released in 2011, was rated at 91 percent. If you’ve never given thought to the various perspectives and controversial topics behind the concept of death penalties, this film might change your mind about legal killing in regards to human rights. Perhaps two wrongs don’t make a right…
2. Black Gold
Calling all coffee lovers…this is a film for you! Black Gold presents unfortunate truths in regards to coffee industries. But before you close your eyes and move to the next film suggestion out of fear of losing your relationship with coffee, this 2006 documentary does not necessarily condemn coffee drinking. The film conveys the stories of hardworking Ethiopian coffee farmers struggling to sustain themselves due to Western exploitation. Your coffee may have cost less than $5, but have you ever considered what other costs were involved? Find out by watching this compelling movie to learn how you can help provide coffee farmers with fair pay through purchasing fair trade coffee.
3. Dreams Die Hard
Slavery…right here, right now in the United States of America – “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Be prepared to cry as you watch Dreams Die Hard (2012) and listen to the accounts of four people whose lives were betrayed. Could you ever imagine what it would be like to be sold into slavery? The people in this film reveal immense strength, courage, determination, and the most challenging characteristic of all considering what they’ve been through – forgiveness. Hear their important stories because what happened to them could happen to any one of us. We need to be aware that slavery does still exist, so that it may be abolished once and for all!
4. A Quiet Inquisition
Pro-life or pro-choice? The topic clearly has popularity in political, feminist, and religious debates these days. What would you do if as a doctor responsible for life or death decisions, you believed in pro-choice, and pro-life became law (or vice versa)? A Quiet Inquisition, released this year (2014), is a dramatic documentary highlighting upon the ethical conflicts a gynecologist in Mangagua, Nicaragua must face when deciding to either follow the law or treat the physical and emotional needs of women. Women’s lives are in jeopardy! Whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, view this documentary to understand why the abortion debate involves such a complicated dilemma.
A Pixar movie like Finding Nemo can give us an idea of the devastation and panic a father might feel when he loses his son. The 2014 drama, Siddharth is the human version of Nemo’s story, but (spoiler alert) unlike Finding Nemo, this movie is sadly realistic and might not reveal the “happy ending” most audiences like to see. The story of a father trying to find his son, believed to have been kidnapped by child traffickers, is the similar story of millions of real people in the world today. The film is not intended to be emotionally manipulative, but human trafficking is naturally an upsetting act of human injustice. The movie is fiction, but the plot is real.
6. Private Violence
Do you ever wonder why people, especially women remain in abusive relationships? According to the documentary Private Violence (2014), 75 percent of women who lose their lives due to domestic homicide were killed due to leaving or being in the process of leaving. The scariest place for a woman could be her own home. So let’s not judge; instead, we can be Green Monsters and help people involved in domestic violence. Watch this film to increase your awareness and broaden your own perspectives and solutionary thoughts.
Be a Green Monster, Be a Human Rights Activist
Of course, the films listed are only a few of many compelling recent films exposing modern dilemmas of human rights. One might have never even knew what food security is prior to watching A Place at the Table, for example. In one regard, it is sad there are so many human rights films being released because if the issues were not of dire significance today, these productions would not be necessary. However, human rights dramas and documentaries convey messages that we should all be talking about. Because if we close our eyes and pretend that human injustices are only fiction, we will never see the end to slavery, discrimination, or violence.
As you are reading this post, you have access to the internet’s resources and thus, you have the opportunity to continue to learn. Anyone, however, can be a solutionary. What does it mean to be a solutionary (you may ask)? Find out why you should care to learn and how you can make a difference for people across the globe by clicking here. As Green Monsters, we seek compassion for a peaceful world and a brighter future. As we focus on liberating animals from captivity and ecosystems from destruction, let’s not forget to liberate our fellow human beings. Read this post to discover ways you can help solve urgent human rights abuses today!
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