Today I attended the first-ever Tucson Abolition Conference at the University of Arizona. The objective of the conference was to raise awareness about human trafficking/modern-day slavery and give people the tools and resources they need to effectively combat this crime.
The government defines human trafficking as the “recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them,” according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. In my opinion, and that of many other activists, human trafficking is slavery.
According to experts, human trafficking is a $31 billion dollar industry. It is estimated that 2 million children are trafficked and exploited in the sex trade alone. And that number doesn’t account for all of the other children who slip under the radar. The truth is, concrete statistics are hard to come by in this field because there is no way to count every slave.
It is the third largest illegal industry in the world. It is underground, complex and dangerous.
And it happens everywhere.
No exceptions. Period.
Isn’t that incredible? Every country on the globe has made slavery illegal. In fact, this month marks the 149th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Wasn’t slavery supposed to be over?
Well, it is far from over and it is an even larger issue now than it was when Abe Lincoln declared that America’s slaves would be freed. You may know someone who is a victim. He may do your landscaping. She may paint your nails. But you can’t be sure, you can’t see it. And even if you did know, would you help that person? Could you?
One of the speakers at today’s conference said “the anti-trafficking movement requires that you be brave, that you speak up.” Sometimes, being brave means you have to know where to start.
Below is a list of resources and organizations that I accumulated throughout the day. I hope you check them out, remember them and use them. But first, if you aren’t very educated about the subject, take some time to raise your own awareness first. The first step is knowledge. After all, knowledge is power.
International Justice Mission– working to fix broken public justice systems so that the law can work for victims and prosecute perpetrators
Shared Hope International– rescues and rehabilitates women and children who are victims of trafficking
Polaris Project– takes a comprehensive approach to fighting all forms of trafficking, primarily in the U.S.; national hotline: 1-888-373-7888
Slavery Footprint– calculate how many slaves work for you and your luxuries and learn how you can change it
Arizona League to End Regional Trafficking– working in Arizona to support victims and raise awareness; ALERT hotline: 1-888-60 ALERT
Southern Arizona Against Slavery – a coalition of activists dedicated to fighting trafficking in Arizona and around the world
Streetlight Tucson– combating child sex slavery
I hope you find these links useful. Remember, there are so many more resources! This is just the beginning!
There is nothing right about owning and exploiting another human being. Take action.
“We all can contribute to the fight.” –Karna Walter, SAAS