January is Human Trafficking Awareness month
January was first declared as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in 2010. Since then, January has been a time to acknowledge those experiencing enslavement and those who have escaped. Although slavery is commonly thought to be a thing of the past, human traffickers generate hundreds of billions of dollars in profits by trapping millions of people in horrific situations around the world, including here in the U.S. Traffickers use violence, threats, deception, debt bondage, and other manipulative tactics to force people to engage in commercial sex or to provide labor or services against their will. (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network – www.nctsn.org)
This injustice belongs to every individual, congregation and community in this country and beyond.
Victims may be children or adults, female or male, educated or illiterate, rich or poor, citizens or not, urban or rural – or anywhere in between. The only common element is that people caught in trafficking have been stripped of their freedom. (ELCA Justice for Women – www.elca.org)
As followers of Jesus, each of us is called to act, to do justice.
Since 2007, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is recognized each year on January 11th. On this upcoming day and throughout the month of January, what action(s) will you take to shine a light on the injustice of human trafficking? Here are just a few ideas:
Learn – Educate yourself about modern-day slavery. Research websites such as endslaverynow.org, freetheslaves.net, polarisproject.org, sharedhope.org/resources. Read books and watch videos from your library on the subject. Find expert advice and resources on the Central Ohio Reach and Restore website (https://swo.salvationarmy.org/reachandrestore/), ELCA Justice for Women webpage (https://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Publicly-Engaged-Church/Justice-for-Women/Social-Issues/Human-Trafficking), or the Ohio Human Trafficking Commission webpage (https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/HumanTrafficking).
Consume Wisely – Hold businesses accountable and ask corporations to join the fight. Buy Fair Trade products like coffee and chocolate. Purchase products made by survivors at madebysurvivors.com. Listen to music, watch movies, and visit websites with positive, relationship-building messages rather than glorification of violence and injustice.
Report a Tip – Learn the indicator signs. If you suspect slavery or exploitation, call the national trafficking hotline at 888-3737-888.
Advocate for Change – Though slavery is outlawed, advocates are needed to fully prevent it, hold enslavers accountable and empower survivors. Call or write your elected officials to advocate for stronger laws to protect victims. Get news from www.polarisproject.org or https://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Publicly-Engaged-Church/Advocacy on how to engage in political action and advocacy.
Wear blue on January 11th – Blue Campaign is a national public awareness campaign of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, designed to educate the public, law enforcement and other industry partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond to possible cases. Visit https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/wearblueday to learn more about this campaign and join others in wearing blue! #WearBlueDay