It’s 2014 and we’re still talking about slavery. Most people in the US probably think slavery ended in 1865. But the harrowing reality is that it didn’t. And here we are, nearly 150 years later, still fighting to free people from forced labor, bonded slavery, and human trafficking.
According to the International Labour Organization, it is estimated that there are 10 – 27 million slaves held worldwide. Did you know that? I didn’t. And it’s not because we’re uninformed. It’s because those who are in the slave industries want us to believe these numbers are a lie and they’re not holding anyone against their will. Often, their slave trade is fronted by what is a seemingly legitimate business.
The US Department of State has research that shows approximately 80% of people trafficked into forced labor for economic and sexual exploitation are women and girls. It’s sickening to think that millions of women and girls are still treated as chattel, as if they are no different than an animal. And to think that foreign governments such as China, North Korea, and Uganda may be part of this horror. Even more frightening is the though that we may innocently be supporting these slave owners by purchasing goods from companies who are not vigilant in monitoring their global suppliers.
But, it’s not all grim. We CAN do something about it. We CAN be a part of the solution to END IT! It’s not a like or a tweet or clicking a share button that will make it stop, but that’s a start.
5 Ways YOU Can Help End Human Trafficking and Slavery
1. Talk about it. No, don’t freak yourself out or scare your kids or friends. But talk about. Share the facts about slavery. Let people know that slavery still exists, not just in history books but in our world still today. The more people who know about human trafficking and slavery the more pressure the slave industry will feel.
2. Don’t support businesses in industries known for slavery. It saddens me that the chocolate industry is one of the biggest offenders in this area. And I love chocolate! But I try to seek out companies that have taken a stance against slavery and are proactive in making sure their supply chain doesn’t keep this oppression going. There are so many industries that have a history of using slave labor, but with small change comes bigger change.
3. Look for it. This is a hard one because we don’t want to get involved or “mess up our day” by having to do something about it. But when it comes to human trafficking, it’s happening right under our noses. When Atlanta, Georgia is major hub and one of the top 14 cities in the US in human trafficking and children used in prostitution we can’t keep looking down at our mobile devices and pretending we don’t see what is around us. This is especially important when you attend major sports, music, film, or cultural events where girls who have been lured into prostitution may be right in front of us. The US Attorney General has stated that the NFL Super Bowl is the largest human trafficking event in the US. That’s not what the game should be about! Again, this isn’t about being obsessed with thinking everyone is a villain. It’s about awareness and if something doesn’t seem right taking a few minutes to become alert.
4. Educate your children about online safety. Human trafficking, especially in the US, is not just about poor kids from the wrong side of the tracks. Trafficking girls for sex happens to vulnerable girls regardless of their background. And while boys are not often lured as slaves, they may be groomed to play other roles in the slave industry. With the ease of communication brought on by technology, it’s even more important to be aware of what our kids are doing and who they are talking to online. Never think “not my child”, because it’s at that point when they are the most vulnerable. Kids don’t want to have their life tracked by their parents. But it’s our job to make sure they are safe, and that includes at home, at school, at outside activities, and even when they’re with their friends.
5. Do something! It’s not easy. We’re a society that is often much more generous with our money than our time. We may prefer our involvement to be the 2 minutes it takes to send a few bucks to an organization through their website or mobile app. The reality is that stopping human trafficking and slavery requires more from us. Slacktivism won’t work here. It doesn’t have to be a global effort for each of us, but it does start with us. Wearing a shirt won’t end slavery. Placing a red “X” on my hand won’t free young girls lured into prostitution. But those start a conversation. They raise awareness. And from there we take the next step. It’s because citizens have been suspicious of girls being out late at night that police have been able to rescue girls. It’s because people have sucked it up and paid the higher price for products that are guaranteed to be made without slave labor. And it’s everyday citizens who will call the FBI to report human trafficking.
One person can and does make a difference. And it starts with us. By posting this on my blog I’m not changing the world. But I’m confident that together WE can make a difference. WE can be part of the movement to END IT.
Please join me and learn more about how you can Shine A Light On Slavery. Not just today, but every day.