An unexpected phone call from Aaron Cohen, the author of Slave Hunter and human activist, turned into one of the most interesting conversations I have had to date. Within five minutes of emailing him for an interview, I was contacted immediately. His quick response is a direct reflection of his fervency to spread the word and get others involved.
Who is Aaron Cohen you may wonder? After hearing his story, you will not forget him. Just by browsing his Web site abolishslavery.org, you sense a passion that does not appear in most people. And when you speak with him, this passion is even more evident. But what is he passionate about? Aaron Cohen’s mission is to free those who have been held captive in the sex trade and other forms of bondage, such as in agricultural and industrial production and in domestic work.
Cohen’s mission didn’t always look like this. Once a drug addict himself and best friend and business partner with front-man of the rock group Jane’s Addiction, his life obviously didn’t reflect his present attitude of selflessness. When asked what began his transformation, he says it was due to his mother’s diagnosis with cancer and “her sincere last wishes for her life.”
For the past several years, Cohen has been known to many as a slave hunter. Going undercover, Cohen seeks out those who are victims of human trafficking in areas such as Cambodia, Latin America, Sudan, and Iraq. Cohen has played an integral role in freeing the lives of abused victims. Currently, he is promoting his book Slave Hunter. This book retells Cohen’s life-risking journey. When asked what memory resonates the most, he recalls a story about a young girl named Jonty whom he encountered while in Cambodia. He appeared in disguise at a brothel where he met her. She was too shy to sing karaoke by herself, so Cohen suggested she gather her friends to help her. These eleven girls, including Jonty, were victims of human trafficking, which included forced sexual acts. The next day, Cohen was able to free all eleven girls.
Cohen speaks with a heartfelt sincerity as he recalls these bittersweet memories. This memory is bitter because Jonty died of liver failure due to the drug abuse she was forced to partake in while held captive. These memories are yet sweet because Jonty and her ten friends were free from a life that seemed inescapable and would have led to death if someone like Cohen had not rescued them. Eight of the eleven graduated from that life and two returned to drugs.
Even more so, the memories that Cohen carries are memories of hope yet urgency to continue his efforts in freeing these innocent children. Cohen says, “ I am one guy with many networks.” He further explains that he and others have come together to help alleviate this dangerously growing problem. You, too, can make a difference. But how?
Cohen offers ways in which you can get involved. The first step is prevention. This can be accomplished by creating an awareness campaign through various social networks such as Facebook. The next step is prosecution. If you know of someone who is a victim of human trafficking, then call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1.888.3737.888. The last step is protection. Protect those who have been victims or who are currently.
You may think that one person can’t make a difference; however, it is apparent that Aaron Cohen, the slave hunter, has made a difference in many rescued lives and so can you.
By Brittany Windle. To learn more about human trafficking, visit Abolishslavery.org.