Human trafficking. I don’t know about you, but when I first heard that term I thought it referred to illegal aliens. You know the stereotype… people in other countries trying to sneak across borders illegally, maybe paying for the privilege. But it means so much more.
Slavery. It’s an ugly word. It’s associated with images of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. Africans kidnapped from their homes and exported to Europe or America as slaves to white plantation owners. Thankfully, slavery no longer exists, right?
Slavery means Human Trafficking. They are the same thing. Human Trafficking is the polite euphamism for Modern human slavery. Slavery hasn’t been eradicated. It’s simply changed it’s form.
Slaves of the Old American South were bought and sold for a considerable amount of money. They were valued as an expensive investment, much like we would buy a car today. It was horrible, disgusting, cruel, and dehumanizing, but today it’s worse. People, especially children and women, are traded and sold for virtually nothing. So their “owners” treat them as disposable people. When someone wears out, simply get someone else.
*There is an estimated 27 MILLION slaves worldwide today – more than at the height of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. We hide behind the idea that this only happens in other countries far, far away from our own. It’s true that other countries have slaves. It’s also true that there are probably slaves in your country or even your own backyard, working behind the scenes, unseen and uncared for. Slavery exists in virtually every country on the planet Earth, even though it’s supposedly been abolished for years. Mauritania is the most prominent example of a country that only recently legally abolished slavery.
Sure, that may be true for Mauritania, but what about the Mid Western United States? What about Florida? What about England? What about China? Yes, they have slaves too.
What about this article written about slavery in Kansas? Here’s another one about a slave in Florida. England has it’s share of trafficking rings. China’s slave labor camps imprison people the government considers undesirable (such as political dissidents or homosexuals) and force them to work producing cheap export products.
What can we do, what can ANYONE do, to stop this? It’s overwhelming.
We need to be informed and make people aware that slavery isn’t history! The first thing we need to do to eradicate this evil is let people know it still exists. Read books. Watch documentaries. Write and tell as many people as you can. Raise awareness.
There are lots of things that you can do to help. Hold a screening of a slavery documentary at your library. Invite friends to a movie night at your house featuring a movie like Amazing Grace. Then talk about how slavery still exists. Make and print out flyers to post at local bulletin boards. Blog. Write to newspapers, magazines, and your government representatives. Hold a bake sale or yard sale; give out flyers with purchases and donate the proceeds to an abolitionist organization.
Also, watch the types of goods you consume. Don’t inadvertently support slavery through ignorance by purchasing slave chocolate or coffee products.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a lot of money. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a lot of resources, time, or transportation. You have something slaves don’t have. Freedom.
And a voice.
So use it.
Enslaved can be read (with some omissions towards the end) as a Google book preview, though I strongly urge you to either buy a copy or check it out at your local library. In my opinion, it really brings the issue home by having the individual slaves tell their own stories.
Not for Sale is another must read. This also has individual slave stories, but told from a third person point of view.
American Anti-Slavery Group -(from their website) a nonprofit organization that works with former victims of human trafficking to abolish modern-day slavery, focusing primarily on systems of chattel slavery in Sudan and Mauritania.
Not for Sale campaign -(from their website) a campaign of individuals, musicians, artists, people of faith, businesses, school and sports teams united to stop (slavery).
End Human Trafficking – an online resource for articles, videos, links, ideas, and more through the Change.org website. This is one of the most active abolitionist sites I’ve come across.
Stop the Traffick -(from their website) a global movement of ordinary activists from around the world who believe that PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE BOUGHT AND SOLD. We believe that when people act things change. Visit their website for news, activism opportunities, and sign their declaration. They even have a store where you can buy activist materials like shirts, buttons, posters, and banners.
Free the Slaves – an online resource for activist materials. Easy access so that anyone can get involved in the modern abolitionist movement.
Amazing Grace – the story of the abolitionist, William Wilberforce, who worked to end the slave trade in the British Empire. A Church would be a great place to hold a viewing of this video.
DEMAND – a documentary about the sex slave trade. The website offers the full 45 minute version with the warning features graphic material, nudity, and sexual content. Underneath there is a 16 minute condensed version that does not contain graphic material, nudity or sexual content and is ideal for churches, schools and youth.
What Traffickers Don’t Say – just barely over a minute, this public service announcement is incredibly powerful. Please watch it.
*The 27 Million slave estimate was taken from the Free the Slaves site, though I’ve seen similar estimates on other abolitionist sites.