Monday, June 12, 2017

A Run to Remember: The Race Against Sex Trafficking

Written By: Kruppa Raghuraman
Program Intern, World Affairs Council of Atlanta
Student, Georgia State University
Published: 6/12/2017
During the summer after my sophomore year of high school, my family and I had finally decided to take a visit to India, the country I was born in. The year was 2015 and it had been at least seven years since we had last visited. When I learned that we were going to India, I was filled with excitement and kept daydreaming about how fun it would be. Living in America made me miss the festivals celebrated in India. The way my family and I celebrate them in the United States is much different from how they are celebrated there because, in India, each festival is a national holiday where everyone celebrates with one another. To my dismay, the period we were going to visit was not a time where there were many Indian festivals. But aside from the celebrations, I was more ecstatic to finally see my relatives and friends after seven long years.

The next thing I knew, we were all getting ready to get on the flight to India. My heart was beating faster as we kept getting closer to the airport. It felt as though it would burst out of excitement. Before I knew it, we were sitting on the plane quietly anticipating the arrival to our motherland. However, all of my fantasizing came from the memories of my younger self. I had to forgotten to take into account how much the country would have changed after almost a decade. After spending a couple days in India, I realized that it wasn’t the same as my memories – a joyful and happy place full of celebrations and positivity. I was wrong, with the positives came the negatives. It was insanely crowded, unbearably hot, and some people were even disrespectful to the elders. And there was too much cat-calling. That struck me as something odd. I thought, if these men could whistle and cat-call girls who are so young, then what else could they do? This was a question that constantly popped into my head every time my family and I had to go to a store or even a restaurant. But these questions were quickly distracted by spending time with relatives, friends, and just being a curious tourist in my own country.

With a blink of an eye, one month of experiencing India had sprinted by and I left with a heavy heart. As soon as I came back to the United States, that one question began haunting me again. There seemed to be a bigger picture attached to it. To be cat-called and whistled at is not typically something girls, especially young girls, would look much into since the guys aren’t physically doing any harm. But the larger question remained that if a man could freely do this to little girls, they could probably do much worse. That’s when the real search began. The first thing I googled was “Top 10 dangers for women living in India,” and one of the first things that came up was the “Red Light District.” I was shocked, confused, and just saddened by the results. It was an area where illegal human trafficking was taking place. The more I researched, the more disappointed and angry I became. Angry at society for allowing such things to happen to innocent girls and young women who are forced or not even aware of what they are getting into. The worst part was that the victims of trafficking were ones who were in desperate need of money to save their families. It’s as though they had fallen into a trap in which they couldn’t escape from. While doing the research, I decided to talk to one of my very close friends about how this is such a huge problem in India and how millions are affected by it.

We decided to take action. The first thing we did was make a decision on how we could help these victims. Soon, the idea struck us to organize a 5K walk/run. We looked up organizations in the Atlanta area that helped fight human trafficking and found Oasis of Life International. We wanted to be a part of something that fights to end sex slavery and joined alongside them to rescue and rehabilitate the victims of human trafficking.

The process of organizing and facilitating the 5K was not easy along with school and other extracurricular activities I was involved in, but my mission was to help those who were not able to help themselves. Together, my friend and I raised more than $2,000 for the cause, and it was one of the most memorable days of my life. 

Ideological Balkanization: Coming Apart at the Seams? Popping your Political Bubble.

Written By: Spencer Bauer
Program Intern, World Affairs Council of Atlanta
Student, Georgia College and State University
Published: 6/12/2017
Whatever your political stances may be, the preliminary days of President Trump’s administration have exhibited that “[binding] the wounds of division” in society1 — as President Trump so succinctly put it on Inauguration Day, is much harder to accomplish in practice than in mere rhetoric. If anything, mass protests like the Women’s March present only a greater rift in what already appeared to be a fairly balkanized US political realm where people seem too comfortable living in their own political bubble.

Long before Donald Trump's presidency, the feeling of an ubiquitous polarization in the US was increasingly palpable in the waning years of George W. Bush’s administration and throughout the Obama administration. A 2014 study by the Pew Research Center shows that since 1994, the average American’s political views have become more entrenched in partisanship with the average Liberal becoming more liberal and the average Conservative becoming more conservative. In fact, this study also showed that Liberals and Conservatives not only disagree over political philosophies, but as “partisan animosity has risen substantially”, there has been an increase in partisan disagreements over basic human functions like “where they want to live, the kind of people they want to live around and even whom they would welcome into their families.”2

The US is not alone in this realm of atypical and uncomfortable polarization. Recently, there has been a “[broad] ideological shift in European politics” where “extreme positions are represented more frequently…especially from those positions at the far-right of the political spectrum”3. While it is not definitively known why this polarization is occurring at a global scale, theories exist of it being inherent centrifugal forces engrained in Constitutional politics4, or something that is being exacerbated by the evolving media5. However, while finding the causal variables are important, one must also mitigate the disadvantageous and apparent effects caused by high polarization.

Growing up in the US, we are typically instructed not to talk about politics (or religion and money for that matter). This seems based on the preconceived and ridiculous notion that interactions simply cannot be sustained between people with open and differing viewpoints. This cultural norm, while seemingly harmless, is likely only strengthening the divide. In the short time that I have been at the World Affairs Council of Atlanta, it has become clear that our mission of creating an informative space for stimulating discourse is a partial remedy for this issue. The insightful programs I have helped implement covered a range of topics from speakers with diverse ideological backgrounds. Whether it is improving relations between Israel and Palestine or the future political economy of Cuba, my biggest takeaway has been that people generally have the same goals in mind. Instead, disagreements mainly arise in figuring out how  to achieve these goals; and in a society where regular political conversations are tabooed, figuring out the “how” can be the hardest part. Therefore, interacting with people who have different life experiences and perspectives than your own is a great first step to popping your political bubble. 

1. Trump, Donald. “Inaugural Address: Trump’s Full Speech.” CNN, Turner Broadcasting System, 20 Jan. 2017, 
2. Suh, Michael. "Political Polarization in the American Public." Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. N.p., 11 June 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.  
3. Groskopf, Christopher. "European Politics Is More Polarized than Ever, and These Numbers Prove It." Quartz. Quartz, 30 Mar. 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 2017. 
4. Lupu, Noam. "Party Polarization And Mass Partisanship: A Comparative Perspective." Political Behavior 37.2 (2015): 331-356. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Web. 8 Feb. 2017. 
5. Prior, M. “Media and Political Polarization.” Annual Review of Political Science 16: 101–127. Web. 2013.