SEATTLE — An estimated 29.8 million men, women and children live in modern slavery today though the practice has been illegal in every country in the world for more than 30 years. Every year, the products and services they offer generate $32 billion for traffickers. Groups like Free the Slaves (FTS) fight against the trafficking of human persons. Here are ten ways to become a modern abolitionist.
1. Educate yourself.
Visit www.freetheslaves.com and learn about the millions of men, women and children in bondage. Read “Disposable People,” Kevin Bales’ shocking expose on how the modern, global economy has fueled international demand for slaves.
2. Spread the word.
Talk about what you have learned to family, friends and coworkers. Follow and share posts from Free the Slaves and other anti-slavery groups. Use portrayals of slavery’s past to open a dialogue on slavery’s present. If you watched the movie “Twelve Years a Slave,” talk about modern slavery and the shocking fact that the average slave in America during 1850 sold for the equivalent of $40,000. Today, a slave costs an average of $80, less than half the price of a pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers.
3. Shop fair trade.
Buy from companies like Krochet Kids and Raven + Lily, that guarantee their employees a fair, living wage. You not only get a trendy, handmade beanie cap or hand-batiked dress, but also the satisfaction of knowing the money you spend helped empower an impoverished worker.
4. Take Made in a Free World’s slavery footprint quiz.
Take the slavery footprint quiz and learn how your purchases impact the marketplace. Over $88 trillion a year is spent on buying goods and procuring services, some of which slaves make. The way we spend our money can sway the future of the human trafficking industry.
Give your money and time to advocacy groups that work toward bettering laws and rescuing, rehabilitating and reintegrating freed slaves across the globe.
6. Call your lawmakers.
Take 30 seconds to call your senators and congressmen and ask them to prioritize anti-slavery measures. Encourage your representative to co-sponsor and support the Fraudulent Overseas Recruitment and Trafficking Elimination (FORTE) Act. Each call makes a difference because political offices tally every call they receive in a given week and give a summary to the elected official. A few calls a week can get an issue noticed.
7. Mobilize your faith-based community.
Encourage members of your church, mosque, synagogue or temple that abolition is a moral imperative for a religious person. As Archbishop Emeritus and FTS board member Desmond Tutu said,”If there is one abuse that offends our conscience in every way, it is the enslavement of a human being. No child should be born without hope; no person should live without freedom.”
8. Start a FTS chapter at your school.
If there is no FTS chapter at your school, launch one. Contact Aislinn Lehman on how to organize your fellow students into a slavery-fighting, grassroots group.
9. Host an event.
Find creative ways to raise money and awareness. Run a race, throw a party or host a benefit concert. Invite slavery survivors to speak at your event. Download FTS’s Fundraiser and House Party Preparation Guide for more ideas.
10. Watch for slavery near you.
Learn to recognize the signs through organizations like the Polaris Project. If someone you know or see exhibits the signs of trafficking, such as extreme poverty, using sex to make money and extreme fear of employers, call the U.S. National Tip Hotline at (888) 373-7888.
– Sally Nelson