President Barack Obama proclaimed January 2010 as the National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. In the opening paragraph of his press release, President Obama states:
The United States was founded on the principle that all people are born with an unalienable right to freedom — an ideal that has driven the engine of American progress throughout our history…Yet even today, the darkness and inhumanity of enslavement exists. Millions of people worldwide are held in compelled service, as well as thousands within the United States. During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we acknowledge that forms of slavery still exist in the modern era, and we recommit ourselves to stopping the human traffickers who ply this horrific trade.
Today, there are approximately 27 million people worldwide who have been forced into different types of slavery. One million children are new victims of forced prostitution, and 200,000 American women and children are at high risk for being forced into the sex industry. Human trafficking has become the fastest growing criminal activity in the world, generating billions of dollars annually at the expense of millions of enslaved lives.
President Obama goes on to explain:
The victims of modern slavery have many faces. They are men and women, adults and children. Yet, all are denied basic human dignity and freedom. Victims can be abused in their own countries, or find themselves far from home and vulnerable. Whether they are trapped in forced sexual or labor exploitation, human trafficking victims cannot walk away, but are held in service through force, threats, and fear. All too often suffering from horrible physical and sexual abuse, it is hard for them to imagine that there might be a place of refuge.
Today, we face a greater number of enslaved lives than at any other point in human history. The abolitionist movements in Western Europe and the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries were only initiated due to the passionate and brave individuals who were willing to fight for justice and freedom. Millions are desperate for people just like you to stand up for justice and freedom today. What does this look like? The issue of ending human slavery and trafficking is deep and complex, but also possible! Prevention methods must include the enforcement of existing laws and deep societal transformation. Additionally, victims must be rescued, trafficking criminals must be held accountable, and rehabilitation programs for victims (including health care, psychological therapy, job training, etc.) must be established.
Currently, One Day’s Wages is partnered with Not For Sale, a non-profit organization that equips and mobilizes Smart Activists to deploy innovative solutions to re-abolish slavery in their own backyards and across the globe. Donating your one day’s wages to Not For Sale is a great way to make a direct impact on fighting human trafficking. ODW is raising money to establish a border crossing between Nepal and India which will include safe houses, monitoring programs, and services at the border town. For more information, please visit our partnership page.
If you are in the Seattle area, visit Seattle Against Slavery for a listing of events around the city that are focusing on the elimination of human slavery and trafficking. If you are located outside of Seattle, be sure to check for local events or even consider hosting your own public awareness event.