January has once again been proclaimed as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month by President Obama. Also, at the end of December 2016, Pope Francis sent a letter to bishops about injustices regarding children including lack of education, malnutrition, sexual exploitation, and slave labor.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, trafficking has been reported in every state in the United States. Stop Trafficking!, an anti-human trafficking newsletter, states that forms of sex trafficking include, but are not limited to, sex tourism, stripping, live-sex shows, pornography, and prostitution. Labor trafficking is practiced through a variety of exploitative ways including bonded labor, child labor, domestic work, and forced labor. Labor trafficked victims include young children and adults, both women and men. Trafficking victims are often kept in isolation in order to prevent them from getting help.
What are some actions we can take as individuals to combat this expression of modern slavery? Add the National Human Trafficking Hotline – 888-373-7888 – to your cell phone contacts and to your calendar. Not only can you report immediately suspected trafficking activity in your state, but also have the number available for others.
President Obama reminds us: “Every action we take at home, from the clothing we wear to the food we eat, is connected to what happens in the world.” Most folks have limited funds to spend for gifts. Are the gifts given from fair trade groups? Do we eat only fair trade chocolate? Do we drink only fair trade coffee and tea? Because I was recently given a Fair Trade bar of soap, I learned about a new place to purchase Fair Trade products. I have since ordered lip balm from this place—Alaffia. Check it out on the web! Each purchase, no matter how small, adds up and makes a difference. Gathering a group of friends to join in prayer for victims of trafficking is also an empowering action.
May each of us contribute in whatever way we can to stop labor and sex trafficking.