January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. It's heartbreaking that such a month has to exist. But, when human trafficking is occurring in almost every country on the planet and every single one of our lives is affected by it, whether we realize it or not, this month has a reason to exist. The current estimates show 35.8 million people1 live in some form of slavery today. Whether it's bonded labor, forced labor, sexual exploitation, child marriages, child soldiers, organ trafficking, or some other form, people all over the globe are being exploited for profit.
For me, what started out as a passion to end an injustice has resulted in a passion to fight for the dignity, purpose, and life of each individual behind the injustice. So often, we see a number like 35.8 million and think of it as just a number. In reality, it's 35.8 million individuals with a name, face, story, and unique purpose. We must make it less about the injustice itself and more about the people affected. This means living selflessly, loving excellently, and fighting relentlessly.
I've shared this before, but here are the ABC's of fighting human trafficking. These are easy, doable, tangible steps we all can take to end this atrocity.
Use your voice and influence to create change. It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, live in the USA or don't, we can all educate ourselves and those around us. I'm sure we all know 2 people who know little to nothing about human trafficking. Start by educating and equipping those two then expand your efforts as time goes on. Or host a prayer gathering to educate your friends and stand on the front lines of this fight. Just use your voice!
Once you're educated about the basics of trafficking, start learning about the goods and industries that are most affected. For instance, "68% of raw materials, such as cotton, cocoa and coffee, contain forced or child labor (U.S. DOL). U.S. brands including Forever 21, Gap Inc., PepsiCo, Nestle, Hershey’s, Nintendo, and Disney source some raw materials from factories and farms that employ slave labor."2 What we purchase, matters. Shop ethically as much as possible. And I realize you might not be able to afford certain things, but you CAN tell corporations you don't agree with exploitative labor practices and slavery. Buying products made locally, by survivors, or that are Fair Trade certified is a great place to start! Visit the Lifestyle page for more information.
Whether you're using your talents and abilities to directly benefit an organization or you donate to one you believe in, it's important to support those who are combatting this issue everyday. Also, take out your phone and put in the National Human Trafficking Hotline number (1-888-373-7888). Use this to report a suspicious situation, share it with your friends, or give it to someone who you believe is at-risk or currently being trafficked.
Organizations to consider supporting:
(1) via Global Slavery Index
(2) Info provided by Nomi Network