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On the last day of January, a month that is now regarded as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in the States, I was privileged to listen to a local leader share about his work to bring care and compassion to local young men, women and children who are victims of human trafficking. He educates the public not only about what factors put individuals at risk of being coerced or forced into modern day slaves and how to spot potential abuse, but also about how the law influences a child’s chance at healing and recovery. There are approximately 1.6-2.8 million runaway youth in America each year, 1/3 of which are approached by a trafficker within 48 hours who offers shelter, safety, income and maybe even “love”. Although over 100,000 children are trafficked each year within our borders, there are only about 8 shelters nationwide that will take these kids in and offer professional care, and because of The Manasseh Project’s diligent work, one of them is in West Michigan.
So, modern day slavery (27 million people) can look like sexual victimization, but for millions more it looks like forced labor with unsanitary working/living conditions and poor wages, if they receive any at all. Most of us are not knowingly buying slaves in such explicit terms, but it’s important to note that we all support it to one degree or another by the purchases we make.
Slaveryfootprint.org allows you to quickly tally how many slaves you may have working for you, spinning your cardigan, harvesting the cacao for your chocolate chip cookies or mining the rare earth inside your smart phone. It’s definitely eye opening. Knowledge = Culpability
Additionally, here’s a resource that can be used to find out if there is slavery behind some of your favorite products or brands: http://www.free2work.org
Remembering the significance of yesterday’s anniversary of Congress passing the 13th Amendment, let us resolve to be modern day abolitionists through choosy consumerism, advocacy and action for human dignity and rights for all!