Slavery is still relevant today, but it doesn’t take the form that most of us have in the forefront of our minds. When many of us hear the word slavery, we tend to think of the Civil War and think that it ended with President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
We don’t think about the 12 year old girl that was smuggled into the United States and is forced into prostitution to pay back her debt to the smugglers. We don’t think about the girl that fell into hard times and was abducted and forced to sleep with dozens of people a day because she owed someone money.
We don’t think about these things because we don’t want to allow our minds to acknowledge that evil to this magnitude still exists in today’s world—but it does.
As Americans, we’ve had this false sense of security by resting in the notion that humanity really isn’t that evil after all—or at least it isn’t anymore. We have this tendency to turn a blind eye to the things that make us uncomfortable in hopes that they fade away and work themselves out.
Let me tell you: slavery is not dead and will never be until we take it upon ourselves to end it.
As you’ve walked around our college campuses today, you’ve probably seen a few people sporting a red X on their hands and some of you have no clue what that means. Let me tell you exactly what it means.
Today, February 23rd, is Shine a Light on Slavery Day. If you’re curious what the red X means, it’s done its job. It’s meant to get you to ask questions about it and, in turn, bring awareness to one of the biggest issues you’ve never heard about on the news: modern day slavery and human trafficking, or to make things simple, slavery.
This all started in 2013 with the END IT MOVEMENT. Their goal was to bring awareness to the atrocities of modern day slavery. We often fail to realize the massive amount of people that fall into human trafficking realm and that it’s something that is happening right here in America. It’s happening in cities across the nation right under our noses.
It is estimated that there are roughly 27 million people trapped in slavery across the world today with women making up 55% of that number. According to A21, the average age of a trafficking victim is 12 years old, and on top of that, there is only a 1-2% chance that any of these victims are ever rescued.
In America alone, over 17,500 women are trafficked into the country each year and sold as sex slaves. These victims are forced into prostitution and are stripped of every bit of their human rights and treated as objects rather than humans. They are used, abused, and then discarded. Given that only 1-2% of victims are ever rescued, that means that 98% of these victims remain as sex slaves until their death.
Sexual exploitation isn’t the only form of slavery that exists today. Millions of people, children included, are forced to work in sweatshops for pay that is severely inadequate and under inhumane conditions.
While you may think there’s no way you could ever support a company that uses child labor to make their products, think again.
We do it every day and fail to realize it by purchasing goods coming straight out of these places. Companies like H&M, Urban Outfitters, and Forever21 are some of the most notable companies that fall into this realm. While hearing these things may not faze you, it may change your perception of these companies. However, with each purchase you make from these companies, you now know where your dollar is going and that’s something you can’t overlook.
Below is a video I saw at Passion 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia about a former victim of slavery. Her story really opened my eyes to how easily someone can fall into slavery and has made this movement something I’m passionate about, and I hope it will to you as well. Check it out here.
Slavery isn’t an issue that divides us along political party lines, but rather one that divides us along the lines of humanity and inhumanity. These 27 million people have gone unnoticed and been silenced for too long. Today is the day we speak for them.
Ending slavery once and for all starts with each and every one of us, and the time is now for our voices to be heard.