A Month of Awareness, Advocacy & Action

For many years now, January has been designated by Presidential Proclamation as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. You can read President Obama’s Proclamation for January 2016 here. It is often debated if awareness campaigns actually make a difference, or have a long-lasting impact on the issue or cause (remember the Bring Back Our Girls campaign for the school girls kidnapped by Boko Harem in Nigeria?). I don’t think there is a definitive answer as to whether awareness does any good. There are probably many examples where awareness increased about an issue, but that didn’t result in change. Conversely, for change to occur in the first place, future advocates first have to become aware of an issue.

 

 

In regards to Modern Day Slavery, I believe that once people discover that there are an estimated 36 million slaves in the world today, and that slavery takes place in all countries even though it is illegal everywhere, and that slavery is a $150 billion per year industry, making it the fastest growing criminal industry, that the majority of people will want to do something about it. What can you do this month to help raise awareness, advocate or take action in the fight against human trafficking? First, I recommend reading my previous post with the top 10 ways to become a new abolitionist. You can also sign up for our Virtual Race 2 End Slavery, and share the event and the reason you signed up with your family, friends and networks. Finally, and this is mentioned in the top 10 post, read up on the End Modern Slavery Initiative and consider getting involved in your state on behalf of this important legislation.

 

In order to make a difference in the fight against human trafficking, we need to educate (awareness), speak up on behalf of those living in slavery (advocacy), and get involved with activities that create real change (action).

Top 10 Ways to Become a New Abolitionist

Everybody can contribute to the fight against human trafficking, in some tangible way. Free To Run developed this Top 10 list as a resource that can be used to put your on a path to becoming an abolitionist.

  1. Learn the Facts & Dig Deeper – There are countless resources available on the Internet, but a good starting point would be freetheslaves.net, polarisproject.org and ijm.org. A few recommended books include Girls Like Us, A Crime So Monstrous, and Not For Sale. You will find several documentaries about human trafficking on Netflix and Amazon.
  1. Be the Voice – Speak up about modern day slavery. Tell others about this crime against humanity and recruit others to join the movement. Be the voice for the voiceless.
  1. Shop with a Conscience – Buying Fair Trade helps to ensure that workers in the supply chain are given fair wages and aren’t being exploited. Purchase products made by survivors and at-risk individuals to help sustain organizations and support survivor empowerment (e.g. Nomi Network, Made By Survivors, Destiny Rescue)
  1. Advocate for Change – Tell your elected officials that this is an issue you care about, and why we need stronger laws to fight trafficking domestically and internationally. Research state laws at polarisproject.org or sharedhope.org. Learn about the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act at ijm.org.
  1. Lead Cultural Shifts – Lead by example and reject longstanding cultural beliefs about the limits of an individual based on their gender or their status in society, and instill in others that human beings are not objects nor property. Don’t fuel the demand by supporting industries and businesses that exploit females.
  1. Recognize the Signs – If you suspect slavery or exploitation, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline (888-3737-888), or the local tip line coordinated by BE FREE Dayton (530-378-4771).
  1. Volunteer – Research volunteer opportunities with a local organization like BE FREE or Oasis House. BE FREE volunteers regularly deliver posters and flyers to Dayton-area businesses, while Oasis House organizes street outreach activities.
  1. Walk or Run a 5k – The simple act of walking or running can help make a difference. Register for the World Race for Hope 5k, which takes place on New Year’s Day in Troy, Ohio, or sign up for the virtual race and run or walk anywhere, anytime during the month of January. http://runsignup.com/worldraceforhopetroy
  1. Plan an Event or Fundraiser – Organize a collection drive for supplies that are used in local outreach activities, host a movie screening at your house, or plan a yoga retreat as a fundraiser to support a specific nonprofit.
  1. Follow Your Passion & Use Your Talents – Everybody has a talent they can use in the fight against trafficking. Do Pro Bono work (attorneys, graphic designers, accountants) for an anti-trafficking nonprofit, write a song, run a marathon, blog, paint a picture, or donate your services to a fundraiser.