What are appropriate levels of protest when one organization disagrees with another? In Oakland, California a conference was being held to help end child sex slavery. H.E.A.T. (Human Exploitation and Trafficking) Watch is an organization that works with local NGO’s and government organizations to “increase the capacity of all child-serving professionals and communities to effectively respond to and combat commercial sexual exploitation of children.” Okay, they are trying to help save children from a life of sexual slavery.
The organization protesting the conference is called Oakland Occupy Patriarchy (OOP). An organization that is dedicated to “fighting the capitalist white supremacist Patriarchy in the oakland and the bay area.” Okay, a political agenda that means a lot to those who participate in rallies, protests, and other events organized by OOP.
What good comes from violence and aggression? The question may seem rhetorical, but it has a solid basis for query. Violence only serves to elicit fear and produce more violence. As a matter of fact, it is a tactic that is often used by slave owners and pimps to keep slaves “inline.” Utilizing this type of aggression to accomplish political means can also be defined as terrorism. Can it be said that if a group is fighting for rights, freedom, or liberation, then are they not really freedom fighters? Absolutely, this must be a consideration as one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. However, when a system is in place that allows for non-violent protest and a means of accomplishing one’s objectives peacefully, that system can and should be utilized before resorting to violence and aggression.
What should organizations with fundamentally different agendas do to further similar causes?
First: Find points of agreement.
In the instance mentioned above, it could be assumed (at least hoped) that both groups agree that children forced into slavery (sexual or otherwise) is a bad thing. There may be no other common ground between the groups, but at least agreeing that children forced into prostitution is wrong would be a good start.
Secondly: Dialog about ways the organizations may be able to work together.
There is no need to be adversarial in every interaction. Aggressive responses make it difficult for cooler heads to prevail. Seek common ground instead of differences.
Finally: Find opportunities to share resources.
The fight against child sexual slavery should be a case of and/also (e.x. let’s work together and also help rescue people) instead of either/or (e.x. either we get the job done or you do, but not both). The fight against trafficking is not a zero-sum endeavor that caters to some and precludes others. It takes all types of services to help those who are enslaved and have been rescued.
Resources may be limited, but the fight to save kids from the child sex slavery industry is best fought together. Alienating one group or another only defeats the purpose of trying to rescue as many children as possible. Organizing and cooperating will accomplish more than creating division and strife.