End It – Slavery in the 21st Century

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Yesterday, February 25, was Shine a Light on Slavery Day. People around the world sported red Xs on their hands to raise awareness for slavery in the world today. Being a thesis writing day for me, the only person I got to share my X with was my husband, but the facts about modern-day slavery surprised him, so I’m calling it a win. You could say that 100% of the people who asked about my X gained new knowledge and appreciation for the tragedy of modern slavery.

 

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My X hand holding my morning coffee. Ignore the heavenly glow, that’s just what happens when the first sip of coffee touches my soul.

The End It Movement, originator of Shine a Light on Slavery Day, is a conglomerate of non-profit organizations that fight slavery and injustice around the world. They organizations involved are not all familiar to me, but some are (A21 Campaign, International Justice Mission, the Salvation Army, and World Vision, to name a few), and I know those to be really great organizations.

Here are a few facts from the End It Movement’s website:
– There are three types of slavery: Bonded Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking.
– 1 in 5 slaves is a child
– 55% of slaves are women or girls
– More than 27,000,000 (yup, that’s 27 MILLION) people in the world today are enslaved in one of the three ways listed above.
– Slavery occurs in 85% of the countries of the world, INCLUDING the United States
– In 2013, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received reports of human trafficking in ALL 50 states and DC.

What does slavery have to do with hunger?
Everything. People who are unable to secure an adequate food supply are terribly vulnerable because they are desperate. A while back I read an article in the news about a group of women from a poor village in South America who were brought to the US by “recruiters” claiming to be hiring garment workers. Once they arrived, their papers were taken from them, they were routinely beaten, and they were held hostage. Once their captors had broken them down, they began selling the women as prostitutes. Knowing they were illegally in the US and that their captors knew where to find their loved ones back home, the victims felt that they had no option but to comply. The good news in this story is that eventually a police sting operation caught the kidnappers and the women were cared for and then returned to their homes and families. Not everyone is so lucky.

People who have dignified employment and access to the basic food and safe water needed for survival are far less likely to become victims of modern slavery.

So what is the answer to this crisis?
Educate yourself and others. Most Americans have no idea that people are enslaved in the world today, and are even more oblivious to the fact that it is happening in their country and in their state. Check out the End It Movement website the the websites of their partner organizations to learn more about this global tragedy and how you can help end modern slavery.
Buy Fair Trade – we’ve covered this before (the hyperlink will take you to my past article on Fair Trade in case you missed it), but it bears repeating. Many of the people in slavery today are working for pennies in sweat shops. Coerced by threats, violence, sexual assault, etc. they toil away day after day for almost nothing. Our artificially low prices on consumer goods are a direct result of this system. If you want to support dignified and safe employment, make do with what you have, buy used when you can, and buy fair trade when you have to buy new.
– Support initiatives that fight modern slavery. There is pending legislation you can support, charities where you can volunteer or donate, social media campaigns you can promote, and fair trade companies that give these victims new opportunities. Do something.

There are more slaves in the world today than ever before in human history. We cannot hide from this reality or claim that it’s not a problem in our country. Slavery is a problem everywhere, and everyone should know about it and how to at least minimize our role in this global crisis.

Leave a comment and help us all know a little more and do a little more!

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