As you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed tomorrow, you’re probably going to run into a lot of red Xs on hands, t-shirts, and even celebrities.
The day highlights how big of an issue slavery still is.
While the number of persons in slavery is uncertain, it’s estimated that anywhere from twenty to forty six million victims worldwide are affected.
Modern forms of slavery and human trafficking include child labor, sexual slavery, forced marriage, and domestic servitude, making the problem difficult to detect and prosecute because many of the practices (service work, agricultural work, cleaning services, etc.) are technically legal. This makes it harder to raise awareness and point out the problem since it can occur so openly, masked as legitimate employment.
Many are fighting back against modern slavery beyond Shine A Light On Slavery Day, from politicians to celebrities alike.
Former Secretary Of State John Kerry was very vocal on the matter while in the Obama administration, helping to close an 85 year old trade loophole that allowed for goods made by the result of slave labor to be sold in America.
One of the biggest efforts was the End Modern Slavery Act co-sponsored by Republican senator Bob Corker of Tennessee who works with END IT. The measure was passed late last year, to acclaim of activists who work to abolish modern forms of forced labor.
Stephanie Richard, Policy & Legal Services Director of the Coalition To Abolish Slavery & Trafficking, (CAST) finds the initiative to be vital. “I really believe that one of the reasons why we have not gone as far as we could in ending modern slavery in our lifetime, in this generation, is because the U.S. government hasn’t put the resources for this issue,” she explained to ATTN: by phone. “This bill really is a creative approach to ensuring public and private partnership.”
“It really looks at both sex and labor trafficking and funding to combat the issue of human trafficking. It’s not focused on one population of this at a global perspective, which I think is really important for the U.S. to be leaders in both combating sex trafficking and labor trafficking.”
Richard noted that End Modern Slavery’s board includes a sex-trafficking survivor, which is incredibly helpful in facing the immensely complex world of modern sex trafficking.
“I always like to tell people that there are no simple solutions for ending modern day slavery, whether it be here in the U.S. or abroad. We do have to take a careful, measured approach where we are expending new and pretty hefty resources to truly combat and prevent this issue from happening,” she said.