Did you know there are more slaves in the world now than there have been at anytime in history? Some estimates say 27 million people are being denied the basic human right of freedom. That is twice as many slaves as there were when the emancipation proclamation was signed. And these aren’t all in foreign countries, there is slavery, called human trafficking now, going on right here in America. It is shocking and disgusting, but luckily there is something we can do about it right now.
Check what you buy
If you buy things, slaves work for you. Go take this survey and find out just how many.
Sugar farmers in the West Indies used to use slaves to produce sugar. But in 1791 the abolitionist movement in England led a sugar boycott that 300,000 people participated in. Sales of sugar dropped and English shops started carrying sugar from India and slave owners lost the economic incentive to use slaves. Many of those 300,000 people were women who were unable to vote in elections but used their money to vote.
Today, most of the coffee and chocolate you drink and eat is produced by slaves. You could start looking for coffee and chocolate marked as fair-trade as a great first step to combatting slavery. The sugar boycott was a huge step forward for the abolitionist movement in England and a coffee or chocolate boycott could be a huge step in the new abolitionist movement.
Not all slavery is that easy to fight. One of the most insidious and disturbing forms of trafficking is sex trafficking. You can take the easy first step of not paying for sex, but for most people that isn’t really a change. Other than that, it takes some more expert legal skill.
Luckily, there are people who have devoted their life and career to eradicating human trafficking around the world. You can help them continue their important work by giving to the organizations they work for. My favorite is International Justice Mission (you can give to them here), but there are several organizations that do this work. Look around online to find one you like and check them out on Charity Navigator.
Sign-up to Volunteer
Human trafficking doesn’t just happen in coffee fields or third-world brothels. It probably happens in the city you live in. Some of the people being trafficked don’t even realize they are being trafficked.
Lots of run-aways and other at risk teenagers find themselves intimidated and abused by older men and even older kids who force them into prostitution. By volunteering as a Big Brother/Big Sister, CASA advocate, or even a local shelter you can help to stop this from happening. Here in Wichita, ICTSOS has the OZ, a center for homeless youth, to help keep them from this kind of trafficking. You can find more information about volunteering at the OZ here.
When my wife and I had just gotten married we we lived in a small apartment and I worked nights. One afternoon I woke up to a knock on the door and it was two teen-age girls selling some kind of green cleaning product. They told me they were part of a program for at risk kids to help them learn sales skills and so I bought it. When they filled out a receipt for me they asked what city we were in. I thought that it was odd they didn’t know where they were and went back to bed.
I’ve sense learned that a lot of these “programs” are actually human trafficking. They had no idea what city they were in because they get on a bus and drive from city to city and sell things door to door without ever really knowing where they are. A lot of times it is magazines and sometimes it is cleaning products. But it doesn’t matter what they’re selling because there are some pretty clear signs of a person being trafficked. Knowing them and reporting suspicious behavior is a great start to ending slavery.
You can learn the signs here. Put the number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (1-888-3737-888) center in your phone and call them for help or to make a report.
Sign this petition
One of the easiest and most important things you can do is sign this petition asking President Obama to make ending modern day slavery a priority.
Spread the Word
Most people don’t even know that slavery still exists. The sugar boycott worked because it was 300,000 people; the more people who are fighting slavery the better. You can share this post on Facebook and Twitter. The guys at the End It Movement have created a lot of resources like facebook cover photos to help you raise awareness in places you already are. Our generation can make a huge step forward in ending slavery, but it starts with the small step of awareness.