"Modern day slavery." It sounds like a contradiction. But it is a grim, little known fact that there is more slavery in the world today than at any time in history, including the Civil War and the height of the African slave trade.
"After drug trafficking, trafficking in humans ties with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world today and the fastest growing." - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011
We often think, that is if we stop to think about it, that human trafficking is something that occurs overseas in remote, dark corners of the world. And that is true. It does occur there. But we are mistaken if we think that it doesn't occur here in the U.S., in our cities and suburbs, our neighborhoods, our local schools, shopping malls and farms.
The problem is so big, but often hidden in plain sight. It may seem overwhelming, so we ignore it. But there are things, both large and small, that we can do to help stop human trafficking.
I once saw a photo of a cardboard sign that read,
“I ALWAYS WONDERED WHY SOMEBODY DIDN’T DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT.
THEN I REALIZED. I AM SOMEBODY.”
I am somebody who can make a difference. And so are you!
Edmund Burke said, “Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” If we all committed to at least doing a little about human trafficking, a lot would be accomplished.
My organization, Justice Network, exists to educate, equip and empower our friends and neighbors to become abolitionists. We are passionate about finding practical ways to raise awareness and to bring an end to human trafficking.
Here are some ways you personally can make a difference and stem the tide of this heinous evil:
BE A PRAYER WARRIOR:
Commit to pray about this issue. Pray for:
Workers providing restoration services
Workers seeking prevention
Frontline activists and law enforcement
Accurate and effective news reporting
Even for the traffickers, pimps, buyers, and johns, after all, they are broken people too.
BE A PROVIDER:
Donate money, goods, and services
Do a donation drive of items for shelters and safe homes
Purchase fair-trade or ethically produced goods made by survivors or those at risk (for a comprehensive list, visit the resources menu at www.justice-network.org)
Volunteer your time
BE A PUBLIC ADVOCATE:
Be informed BEFORE you speak out!
Speak up for those who can't speak for themselves
Tell your family and friends
Use your social media to spread the word and raise awareness (This week visit: www.htchallenge.net to participate in a social media campaign before & during the Super Bowl)
Write letters - to local or county papers, to your Congressman, to companies to find out if their products were created slave-free (question their supply sources)
Organize or attend awareness events
"If you see something, say something." The national hotline to report suspicious activity is 888-373-7888.
Human trafficking is a big problem, but it is one that can be eliminated. If you believe that it is wrong to buy or sell people, then share this message. We CAN change the culture:
150 years ago, President Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation. Today the idea of purchasing a Negro slave on the auction block is unheard of.
100 years ago, women rallied for the right to vote. Today the idea of an American woman denied access to the polling place is unheard of.
50 years ago, Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus. Today the idea of separate but equal schools, bus seats, or water fountains is unheard of.
I have the audacity to believe that 50 years from now, the idea of buying a girl for the Super Bowl will be unheard of.
Dr. BJ Palmer said, "We never know how far-reaching something we may think, say, or do today will affect the lives of millions tomorrow." I wholeheartedly believe that because you and I will do something today, we will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.
Written by Susan Panzica, Executive Director and co-founder of Justice Network, which exists to educate, equip, and empower friends and neighbors to become abolitionists providing education about the facts and ways to fight the issue and directing support to those organizations rescuing victims. She serves on the Steering Committee of the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking and is co-creator of the global #HTchallenge. More about her journey as an abolitionist can be found in the story Somebody’s Daughter, published in Chicken Soup for The Soul.Susan is author of Mary Had a Little Lamb and writer of the blog Eternity Cafe.
For more specific ideas on what you can do: