It’s National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month again (January) and maybe we should do something for it. But what? We all know what to do for Black History Month or Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention? Where do you even begin?
The problem is so vast that we cannot even comprehend it. Yes, sex trafficking has become a trending topic, and while it is agreeably vile, human trafficking doesn’t start and end there. It’s filthy presence is inside your cell phone and laptop battery, it’s in your coffee and tea cup, it’s in the bouquet of flowers you’ll probably receive next month from your sweetheart. So with a problem this massive, it’s easy to throw up your hands, say a quick prayer and move on with your life… or is it?
Certainly, first, we should pray! There is no doubt, we should be praying for the captives, for freedom, for healing, for fortitude, for each of them to come to know a saving knowledge of our Messiah. We should pray for the traffickers, the buyers, and the parents who are in such poverty that they will sell their own children to pay rent or medical bills.
But after we pray, how can we Honor Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month?
Well, let’s begin at the beginning. Alright? Here are five ways we can recognize this month and do something to help prevent this blight on humanity.
- Learn. Sounds basic, but it is important. Read about modern slavery and human trafficking. Discover the sheer vastness of problem, the 50 or so MILLION men, women, and children who are enslaved in various ways. Learn about some of the popular slave industries (sex, coffee, chocolate, bricks, domestic service, etc.) Read a book, watch a documentary, follow a Facebook page. Commit to opening your eyes and seeing it, seeing them, the slaves, the real people with names and stories, with destinies that do not include forced labor or prostitution. See them because once you see them, you can’t ignore them any longer.
- Check your own participation in the slave industry. “What! I don’t participate in slavery,” you say! Trust me, I’ve been there. I was all up on my high horse one day when I suddenly came across a video about slavery in the chocolate industry. Chocolate…. what woman doesn’t love chocolate, afterall! It hurt. I won’t lie. It hurt that I unknowingly supported slavery, and it hurt changing my buying habits, but it is worth it. If you want to see how many slaves you use, visit slaveryfootprint.org and take the survey. #sorrynotsorry
- Change your spending habits. The next logical step after doing the above step is to make changes. I get it. You can’t change everything at once, and that is ok, but you can do something. Maybe all you can do is begin buying fair trade coffee. Maybe you can stop buying that brand of chocolate, maybe it’s clothes, or shoes, or flowers, or diamonds. Just start. Just do something. If we all do something, all those little somethings will speak loudly.
- Educate. Yes, share with your friends. Yes, share on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. But also stop and talk to the manager the next time you’re at Starbucks dropping $7 on a fancy coffee dripping with the blood of slaves. Let the manager know you like their coffee, but not their policies, and ask them to let corporate know we need to see a change. When you’re at Target, ask the manager to point you to any items that are fair trade because if you keep asking for it, they will eventually start to carry it.
- Give. While business is sustainable at preventing slavery, charity matters too. Give to organizations which rescue slaves from bondage. Give to organizations which fight for freedom through public policy. Give to support refugees and to the support of microloans so the truly poor can start a business and will less likely find themselves the victim of exploitation. There’s a lot of organizations doing these things. So pick one and give.
So there you have it. Five fairly easy things you can actually do to prevent slavery and human trafficking. Happy Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month!