You may think of slavery as something only from history books. But the new faces of modern slavery might surprise you … they might be faces of children forced to work in factory sweatshops, they might be faces of household workers trapped behind ornate gates and expensive fences, or they might be faces if young girls – still children – or women imprisoned in lives of prostitution and sexual exploitation. Modern-day slavery goes by the term human trafficking. It is an affront to God and a crime against humanity.
Girls and women are the most frequent victims of human trafficking. The typical age of a girl’s entry into sex slavery is 13 or 14.
Pope Francis’s World Day of Peace message on January 1, “No Longer Slaves, But Brothers and Sisters” focuses on how the God-given dignity of every person should lead to an end to human trafficking, slave labor and the enslavement of women and children worldwide. He calls on society and each individual to assist those who are exploited and to address those conditions and attitudes which are the cause of such monstrous evil.
Francis’s World Peace Day message followed the historic meeting of major religious leaders from around the globe at the Vatican on December 2, where Pope Francis along with leaders of Anglican, Orthodox Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim faiths came together to jointly declare their intention to end modern-day slavery. Click Here to see superb videos from this unprecedented event.
“We, the undersigned, are gathered here today for a historic initiative to inspire spiritual and practical action by all global faiths and people of good will everywhere to eradicate modern slavery across the world by 2020 and for all time.” See Vatican news.
Today’s human trafficking is different in form, but not in outcome, from historic slavery of the past. Ownership is no longer central to control of the enslaved individual. Control today is primarily through economic means – jobs or promised jobs – offered by unscrupulous criminals who use fraud, deceit, violence and intimidation to trap and control their victims. Today’s human trafficking is a sad story of exploitation for money profit. It is implemented by lies, broken promises and threats. More slaves exist now than at any other point in history. Human trafficking is a billion dollar criminal industry that continues to grow. We need to raise awareness of this heinous crime. It is not restricted to far-away places. It might exist in your city or your neighborhood. You can help fight it.
What can I do? You can do many things:
First: Be aware. Study the reference materials below. Take a look around. A woman may be a victim of trafficking if she:
- Looks fearful or depressed, and is not on her own.
- Is being closely watched.
- Does not have possession of her paperwork and money.
- Does not have any luggage.
- Shows signs of physical abuse.
- Does not speak the native language.
Second: Call 888-373-7888. The National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Also contact a police or security officer immediately if you suspect someone is being trafficked.
Third: Take personal actions. Voice your concerns. Vote your concerns. Act on your concerns.
Help spread the word Become a social media activist or distribute informational cards, flyers and/or a human trafficking fact sheet in your community.
Organize an advocacy group with friends Convene an advocacy group with friends to raise awareness of trafficking within your network.
Host an awareness campaign for your community Distribute awareness materials about trafficking and hold a signature campaign.
Here are some of the excellent materials available on human trafficking, especially as it is perpetrated against young girls and women trapped in the sexual exploitations ….
White Paper: The New Face of Slavery Learn about the trafficking of women and girls worldwide, and find out what can be done to end this widespread problem.
White Paper: Prostitution is Not a Choice Read about how the world’s oldest “oppression” continues to be one of the most overlooked human rights abuses of women.
Human Trafficking Awareness Training from U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (click the “Next” button in the bottom/right corner of the screen after finishing each lesson.)