If you've followed my Hearts Should Be Free events, you now know that slavery still exists in various forms throughout the world (not just in third world countries but in developed nations like the United States), and that slaves today suffer the same type of abuses that they did through-out much of history (in some cases, more).
That there is still, after all this time, millions of slaves in the world is a discouraging fact.
But while many groups estimate there are a greater number of slaves today than at any other time in history, when you look at the total population of the world, it is also the smallest percentage of that population that it has ever been. To quote activist Kevin Bales, slavery "has been pushed to the edges of our society" and is "standing on the precipice of it's own extinction." And we can push it over the edge. We can end it. We are closer than we have ever been before.
I am inspired, both by what I've experienced here during Hearts Should Be Free and from the many stories I've heard from people who were moved by the problem of slavery to do something, that ANYONE can make a difference.
Below are some specific ways you can help. Remember, even small things you do are valuable, because you are ONE MORE PERSON doing it, and you are not alone.
Become Educated About Modern Slavery
The first step in fighting modern slavery is understanding the problem. Below are some great resources to educate yourself about modern slavery.
- Reading these 10 Facts About Modern Slavery is a good start to understanding the scope of the problem. For a more complete overview of the problem of modern slavery (and some solutions) I suggest this video. Some other places to learn more are globalslaveryindex.org and The CNN Fredom Project or right here on this blog.
- Learn the signs of human trafficking, and keep the hotline number for your country in your wallet or on your phone contact list. That way, if you ever come across a case of human trafficking you'll be more likely to recognize it for what it is, and will know who to notify. There's also a Redlight Traffick App which helps you recognize the signs of trafficking, and makes it easy to report anything you see. (NOTE: If you are an educator or healthcare provider, there are more detailed assessment tools you can use here. There is also interactive online training available and in the US human trafficking awareness training is also available for individuals, businesses, first responders, law enforcement, and federal employees.)
Once you've learned about modern slavery, you can share what you learn with others and spread awareness.
- Just talk about what you know! Nothing more simple than that!
- Share a fact, an article, a video, or infographic on social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.
- Blog about slavery! You'll find some tips, ideas, and resources you can use here.
- There are various free printable resources at the Trafficking Resource Center which you can distribute or post on public bulletin boards, or distribute at workplaces, churches, community centers, etc.
- Help out with Hearts Should Be Free (the annual awareness event I host on this blog). Learn how you can help here.
- Teachers and homeschoolers can use this resource by Free the Slaves to help share about slavery with their students. History teachers may also find this chart comparing slavery now and in the past to be helpful
Use Your Phone to Fight Trafficking
- While you travel, snap pictures of your hotel room and add them to a police searchable database with the TraffikCam app. Hundreds of pictures of trafficking victims are posted on the internet every month, many in hotel rooms, and this helps police identify where these people are. More Info Here.
Help an Organization Fighting Slavery
- Join an anti-trafficking Coalition. (US Residents: You can see if there's one in your area here, or here, and if not, you can always start one!)
- You can support a charity helping to end slavery/help victims by selling items through Ebay giving works (things in your home you don't need, crafts, etc.). You can find a list of charities related to human trafficking here. (Through Feb 22 you can also list items you're selling in the Hearts Should Be Free Online Anit-Slavery Garage Sale)
Shop With Awareness/Hold Companies Accountable
Because companies do not properly monitor their supply chains, many of the items we buy may have been made with materials that were made with slave labor. We can help change this.
- Find out what your Slavery Footprint is, at SlaveryFootprint.org.
- Write your favorite brands about this issue. ChainStoreReaction is a site that makes it easy for your to write letters to companies encouraging them to take steps to investigate and eliminate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains, and see how they've responded to past letters. You can also usually find contact info on a company website as well.
- Fair Trade products seek to insure that not only all their employees but all of the people who contribute to the materials they use are paid a living wage. This emphasis and the extra scrutiny on the supply chain that comes with it means that fair trade products are much less likely to be tainted with slave labor. When you buy fair trade, you not only help provide a living wage for the people who make that product, but you send a message to other companies that this is important.
- You can browse and shop at fair trade companies, companies which sell products made by rescued victims of slavery (providing them safe employment), and companies which donate to anti-slavery charities here.
Take Political Action
While all countries have laws against slavery, some laws are better crafted to deal with the problem, while others contribute to the problem or are not well enforced. You can help influence your government officials to work towards the eradication of slavery. ( I'm afraid most of my info info below is somewhat US centered, since I have more experience with that.)
- RESEARCH FIRST! Just writing your officials to support any proposed law with the words "trafficking" may not be helpful. A badly written anti-trafficking law can sometimes hurt those they are meant to help, so make sure to do your research before your write your letters or take up a cause. A good place to start is to see what extablished anti-trafficking organizations are saying about the measure.
- BY STATE: You can find info on what laws currently affect human trafficking, by state, in the US to fight Human Trafficking at Polaris Project and find out how your state laws rate on 41 key legislative components related to sex trafficking at Shared Hope International, and find out what legislation related to human trafficking is pending in your state at The Polaris Project. Once you know what's already being worked on, you can write your elected officials about what you think they should focus on next. You can find your elected officials here.
Use Your Talents
Are you an artist, musician, or performer? You can use your talents to help fight slavery.
- Art4Abolition is looking for artists, musicians, and performers to help with various projects.
- I am looking for donations of graphics (artwork, photography, or infographics) that bloggers can use when blogging about slavery. The collection I've started is here: Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would be interested in adding to it.
If you are someone who believes (as I do) that prayer is powerful, than I hope you will pray for slavery to end. Here are some links to some prayer guides which you may find helpful:
- Prayer Guide at The Christian Post
- Prayers for Freedom (blog also contains related devotionals)
- List of Various Prayer Guides/Devotionals
- Faith in Action/Various Faiths (not a prayer guide but a guide to slavery from the perspectives of various faiths including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism.)