Human trafficking is the second largest international crime industry, yet it shocks me every day that we know so little about it.
I’ve worked on awareness campaigns for years now, but the reality of it is has always been hard to grasp. I’ve done assemblies, lessons and presentations on the facts and figures, but numbers are forgotten and people tune out at the maths of it all.
We think that because we live in a developed country that it doesn’t affect us, that it’s not really our problem, but we’re wrong. Twice now towns I have lived in have been in the headlines for illegal brothels, holding women who had been trafficked from different parts of the world. Not only that but most companies who trade overseas are involved in modern-day slavery, one way or another. These headlines appear and the nation goes crazy but just days later we forget and we return to everyday lives and everyday problems.
It’s not even that we don’t care, just that we have such little belief that we can do anything about it, if we can’t affect change, why bother trying? Now imagine all of these people who think this way, there’s a lot, thousands, maybe millions; what if everyone changed their actions and spoke out for justice? Think it can’t be done? Well, how else do you think women were given the vote? Or how theMake Poverty History campaign forced the government into addressing the needs of the developing world? It starts with just a few voices, a few movements, and ripples into something bigger.
If everyone who claimed to care bought only Fairtrade chocolate then the supply of more generic brands would decrease, and companies would work harder to make their products ethical. If we want it, they will serve it, it’s all about supply and demand. We just need to increase our demand for justice. It’s the same for trafficked women in the sex trade, if we call on the government for solutions, for them to take action then our demand will provide a supply of aid.
Even if we were just to talk about it more, between friends, at work, in town, to be more conscious and more aware, means that we’d be more likely to put an end to it. If we can recognise the signs then just maybe we can pull people out of harm’s way.
I was recently in South Africa, and my team and I had to teach young students about the dangers of trafficking, for them it’s not a distant problem, but a real-life threat, and yet most of them were clueless. They knew nothing about how to protect themselves, or the warning signs to look out for, and it really scared me that there were thousands of others just like that. Just think if everyone at risk had that knowledge how many lives could be saved. As a global community we need to be more aware of the problem and provide the knowledge needed to tackle it.
This Sunday is Freedom Sunday, also known as Anti-Slavery Day, a day where the world can unite in a stand against human trafficking. No matter who you are, no one has the right to buy or sell another human being, it’s called slavery and as Christians, and fellow humans, we will not sit idly by and watch it happen. Tearfund and Rhythms show their support through the No Child Taken campaign, which is open to everyone, but there are so many avenues you can take. If you want to learn more about human trafficking and what you can do to help end it, follow these links, Fairtrade, Unseen, Stop the Traffik
Image by United Nations via Flickr/Creative Commons