Monday, June 27, 2011

Flor Molina

The Awesome Woman of the Day is Flor Molina, a survivor of forced labor in the garment industry in Los Angeles, California. She was forced to work, was told she owed her trafficker thousands of dollars, and was even forced to live within the garment factory and was not allowed to go out without escort. Sadly, this is all typical in the world of human trafficking. What is unusual about Molina is that within 40 days of her arrival at the Los Angeles factory in 2001 she found a way to escape, immediately placed a phone call to a (non-enslaved) co-worker, and blew the whistle in spite of threats that her three children and mother back home would be harmed. Her phone call initiated a process that ended with the conviction of the human trafficker who had brought her to the United States and kept her enslaved.

Molina's coworker picked her up, took her to a restaurant, and contacted the FBI who were already investigating the trafficker. The FBI connected her to the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), who helped her find shelter and get back on her feet. She then became a member of the CAST Survivor Advisory Caucus, one of the groups that worked hard to pass a bill in California (that will go into effect in 2012) that requires manufacturers and retailers in the state to disclose their efforts at making sure their supply chains are free of slavery.

Molina offered the final testimony in the California legislature while Governor Schwarzenegger's pen was poised over the bill:
I and other members of the caucus speak up against slavery not because we are not afraid but because we want to make sure that what happened to us doesn't happen to anyone else.

The CAST Survivor Advisory Caucus fought hard for this bill to pass. We testified at hearings, we wrote letters and got signatures for our petition. Our voices were heard and action was taken, action that will, hopefully, protect others from falling prey to traffickers like we once did. I am proud to stand here, not as a victim of slavery but as a powerful agent of change.

Please, Governor Schwarzenegger, will you please sign the legislation?

There was applause, and the Governor signed.

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