The Universal Declaration on Human Rights declared over 60 years ago that all humans were born free and equal with rights common to all and exclusive to none. Sixty-odd years later, in spite of the clear and express prohibition of slavery, trafficking in humans stands at an astoundingly and eerily high level, eclipsing all other eras. In other words, with 30 million people, mostly women and girls, currently being exploited and violated in the sex/human-trafficking trade at this precise moment, there have never been more people enslaved in global history.
The conversation surrounding human/sex-trafficking is not a particularly popular one, but remains a necessary one. Human/sex-trafficking thrives on the secrecy and shadow of unawareness, which currently pervades. This increasingly disturbing human rights violation is linked to forced prostitution, street crimes, domestic servitude, child labour and many other forms of exploitation. Human trafficking is not only about individuals: it has a mass effect on our social fabric, economic stability and more abstractly reflects on our common humanity.
A huge part of addressing this immense problem starts with finding individual efforts, organising in communities and organisations to brainstorm and implement, working with and through governments and intergovernmental organisations and international organisations to stop this problem! This article provides 16 ways to be a champion whether you’re working alone, in community, or at the national or international level. Let’s make a difference!
There are a wide range of books that chronicle the personal experiences of victims, survivors and campaigners against human/sex trafficking. Organise your book club or your social club’s reading list to include these books and share these stories of struggle, triumph and hope. GoodReads provides a list of books that speak to human trafficking and can be a great resource place!
Take Action 2: Share on Social Media.
We live in an increasingly connected world. With one click we can share an informative meme, a change-inspiring photo, or a YouTube documentary with our social networks. This amazing TedxSanJoaquin video is a really informative and thought-provoking. Please share it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iU9TeVofkDo
Take Action 3: Use Every Opportunity to Raise Awareness!
Be creative. Any event is an opportunity to raise awareness and make a difference. Hope for the Sold has an amazing package that enables wedding guests to donate to Hope for the Sold in lieu of wedding favors. Perhaps your birthday is coming up, an anniversary or, a company launch; these are all great avenues to raise awareness
Take Action 4: Blog About It!
The blogospere is another area that we can use to advocate! Cool Cat Teacher Blog used the Christmas season to launch a campaign to Free the Slaves for Christmas amongst bloggers. This Christmas season is almost here; it’s a great time to make a change!
Be environmentally friendly AND save the lives of others through the Phones4Freedom program. The Phones4Freedom program reuses and recycles old or broken cellphones and uses them to help warn remote villages in impoverished communities and areas of trafficking operations.
Action 6: Write a Victim, Support a Victim!
Survivors throughout the world are often comforted by these simple gestures.Alternatively you can support Sanctuary Spring, an organisation that offers some of these survivors the opportunity to rebuild their lives by creating job opportunities through crafting greeting cards. Purchasing one of these cards would be a small step in helping to rebuild a survivor’s life.
Action 7: Organise Screenings of Documentaries.
Sharing a documentary beyond the realm of the world of social media remains an excellent way to get support on the Ground. MTV EXIT Latin America, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) amongst others, shared this year a three-week long series of outdoor film presentations that showcased the human trafficking documentary “Invisible Slaves (The Animation)” to impoverished communities.
One of the most powerful means of telling and sharing stories, emotions, and life experiences has always been Art. Arts Aftercare, as one example, produces the Healing Arts Toolkit, and trains human trafficking aftercare groups how to use the toolkit to help restore life and health in survivors of human trafficking.
Action 9: Be Trained!
One of the key ways to fight human trafficking is to be aware and engaged so that you can best know how to help victims, leverage assistance, and organise. Organisations like the Polaris Project provide a huge database of training materials including pre-recorded webinars and interactive training sessions
Action 10: Fundraise and Donate.
The work of ending human trafficking requires incredible amounts of infrastructure and work that ultimately carries a huge financial burden. 1) Research which organisations you feel most comfortable giving to and 2) organise a bake sale, movie night, marathon or any other event to raise funds. 3) Donate!
Action 11: Engage Students and Youth.
While young people, particularly girls, are extremely vulnerable to human trafficking, they can also be key agents in this fight. The Not for Sale Campaign has created a free school curriculum for both high schools and colleges which, when paired with its Student Abolition Movement, can be very effective in transitioning students from learners to activists!
Action 12: Make it Their Business (Partner with Companies).
In an era of corporate irresponsibility where companies may be part of supply networks that lend to human trafficking, partnerships with companies to break this cycle are essential. As one example, The Body Shop in 2009 started a partnership with ECPAT International and local NGO partners around the world to campaign to Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People, resulting in one of the largest campaigns ever.
Action 13: Public-Private Sector Partnerships.
Governments and businesses can and should combine their resources to address human trafficking. An example of this is the recently announced Partnership for Freedom: Innovation Awards to Stop Human Trafficking. This public-private initiative led by Humanity United, the Department of Justice, and other federal agencies, with support from Goldman Sachs, will fund innovative solutions to improve care for survivors of human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
A huge part of ending the modern-day injustice of human trafficking involves demanding more of our governments and holding accountable companies that directly/indirectly support human trafficking. Change.org is one of the key petition sites with over 10 live petitions currently addressing human trafficking.
Action 15: Know your footprint! Be responsible.
Our food and clothes are sometimes produced thousands of miles away and in some cases through slavery. Living miles away we may simply be unaware of how our demand for certain foods and products contributes to human trafficking. Slavery Footprint allows individuals to measure their footprint and see how much and how they contribute to demand with a view to changing consumer patterns.
Action 16: Get Volunteering!
Perhaps you want to volunteer on the battle lines, away from the virtual world and a lot closer to the spaces that often see the violation of so many persons annually. Organisations like Not for Sale, Hope for the Sold, and A 21, among many others, provide a chance to work to positively impact the lives of so many persons subject to human slavery.
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