‘90s Latin American pop music icon and five–time Grammy award winner Ricky Martin charmed his way into hearts across North America with his good looks and gorgeous voice. As lead singer of the music group Menudo and creator of incredible chart-topping albums such as Vuelve, Martin became an international star, moving from music to stage to screen. Fans may fondly recall his successful stint on General Hospital as the crooning bartender, Miguel Morez, or his cameo as the sexy Spanish teacher in the hit musical sitcom Glee.
However, Martin’s legacy runs deeper than the handsome singer-turned-actor that America grew to know and love. Aside from pursuing his passions for music and acting, Martin is an avid supporter of the campaign battling sex trafficking, child abuse, and exploitation.
Sex trafficking accounts for the world’s second most lucrative crime in the world – a $150 bn industry. As founder of the Ricky Martin Foundation and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Martin has targeted his efforts towards fighting the global issue of sex tourism and trafficking.
Martin’s philanthropic efforts stemmed from his association with the UNICEF organization while he was still a member of Menudo in 1984. In December 2003, Martin was appointed one of UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassadors. As a Goodwill Ambassador, Martin appealed to the United Nations in October 2004, requesting the UN’s assistance in the global fight against human trafficking, particularly in defending and rescuing children from sex tourism.
Soon after Martin’s tour in Thailand in January 2005, on a mission to visit the nation’s tsunami–stricken areas, the singer represented UNICEF in the media. Martin promoted the organization’s work and educated the public on the issues revolving around human trafficking rings and the illegal, albeit international, industry of sex tourism.
Furthering his campaign against sex trafficking and child abuse, Martin embarked on a journey to Dar Al–Amman, Jordan, in July 2005. During his trip, Martin visited the first-ever Child Safety Center, which was established in the Arab region.
As part of his passionate defense against human trafficking, Martin’s non-profit, the Ricky Martin Foundation, was launched as an organization dedicated to the research, prevention, and education on the issues of human trafficking. The foundation seeks to see “a world free of human trafficking.”
In 2002, during a trip to India, Martin witnessed and rescued three girls on the brink of being sold into a prostitution ring. As a result of this experience and his work as Goodwill Ambassador, Martin jump-started his foundation. The foundation has since held over 500 educational conferences to sensitize and inform the public on the sexual exploitation business, especially in regard to minors.
Since the organization’s 2004 Slaves of a New Era campaign, The Ricky Martin foundation continues to be a major voice in preventing, exposing, and educating people about human trafficking on an international level, with a focus on Martin’s home, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean.
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