On Saturday, October 20, thousands of anti-slavery activists marched in their cities to promote awareness of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Dressed in black and carrying signs, these individuals demanded the end of forced labor and sex trafficking.
These people were participants in the Walk for Freedom, an annual event held all over the globe by A21, one of the world’s largest anti-human trafficking organizations. Liberty Nation attended the event in Austin, TX, where hundreds marched on the capital to bring awareness to these modern-day atrocities.
The Walk for Freedom
“[Forty] million men, women, and children are in bondage across the globe.”
The Walk for Freedom is the largest fundraising event of the year for A21, a nonprofit organization that combats slavery globally. The group, founded by Nick and Christine Caine ten years ago, has seen significant success in its mission to free slaves worldwide. Various organizations supported the event, including Celebration Church, Apple, and Dell. Local nonprofits that combat human trafficking in Texas also were present.
A21 assists human trafficking victims through its reach, rescue, and restore approach. Through educational programs and presentations, A21 raises awareness to prevent people from becoming victims. The organization also collaborates with law enforcement to identify victims through hotlines to rescue those who have already been enslaved. In addition, it provides for the needs of those who have been rescued with medical treatment, employment, education, and counseling.
During the event, Pastor Lori Champion of Celebration Church spoke. “[Forty] million men, women, and children are in bondage across the globe,” said Champion. “It’s the highest rate of slavery in the history of the world. Only 1- 2% of victims are ever rescued; only one in 100,000 traffickers are ever prosecuted.”
After Champion spoke, two other speakers related the stories of people who became enslaved through human trafficking. These were tales of women in the United States and Ukraine who had been conned into sex slavery and forced labor.
Slavers perpetrate their crimes in regular neighborhoods.
The Fastest-Growing Criminal Industry
The U.S. State Department defines human trafficking as “the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.” Human trafficking has been a hidden industry. While more people are becoming aware that slavery exists today, they do not understand its prevalence, even in Western societies.
For this reason, slavers perpetrate their crimes in regular neighborhoods, right under the noses of an unsuspecting public. It has become the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world, confounding the best efforts of law enforcement.
Many have the notion that that slaves are typical in African and Middle Eastern nations, but the reality is that slavery occurs in developed countries, possibly in your neighborhood.
The state of Texas has 300,000 victims of human trafficking. Minors account for about 79,000 of these victims. In the United States, about 17,000 to 19,000 victims are trafficked over the border annually. Moreover, the majority of American slaves are citizens deceived or coerced into forced labor and sex slavery.
While law enforcement agencies and legislators develop new strategies to combat the rise of modern slavery, ordinary citizens can aid the fight against this practice.
Standing Against Slavery
There are many different ways the average person can push back against human trafficking in their country.
For starters, one can link up with an anti-slavery organization such as A21 to obtain information and resources that oppose human trafficking. Several larger organizations exist. These include:
You can also look up local anti-trafficking groups in your area. Many smaller nonprofits have been formed to address slavery occurring in cities and neighborhoods.
It is also important that we recognize the signs victims of human trafficking might display. Since the practice is so prevalent in U.S. society, it is possible that many of us interact with slaves on a regular basis without even knowing it.
According to the National Trafficking Hotline, someone who is a victim:
- Is not free to come and go.
- Works excessively long or unusual hours.
- Is not allowed breaks or is under uncommon restrictions.
- Displays poor mental health.
- Seems unusually fearful or anxious, especially when discussing law enforcement or work.
- Displays signs of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or torture.
- Has few or no personal possessions.
- Is not in control of personal money, financial records, or identification (ID or passport).
Of course, one or two of these behaviors does not automatically signal a victim of human trafficking, but if you have suspicions, pay closer attention.
Lastly, it is also essential to cut off the financial incentive for slavers to continue to traffic in human beings. Many of us support modern slavery without even realizing it. A significant number of the products we purchase on a regular basis are manufactured using slave labor. These can include electronics, chocolate, clothing, and more. Traffickers typically operate with legitimate companies. The U.S. Department of Labor has compiled a list of the types of products that are often manufactured by slaves.
Ending the Modern Slave Trade
Destroying the human trafficking industry is no easy task, but there are positive signs. As awareness of the slave industry increases, people are pushing their governments to implement programs and law enforcement strategies to root out and prosecute those who are trafficking in slavery.
It is important that Americans of all political persuasions do what they can to end slavery in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to put an end to this “peculiar institution” in the 19th century, but unfortunately the practice still thrives, especially at the country’s borders.
Modern-day abolitionists are rallying to the cause of freedom. Human trafficking can be defeated, with the good men and women willing to join the fight.