Monday, January 11, 2010

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

This is my first blog post for 2010, and I apologize in advance that I haven't posted for quite some time. I really wanted to share some perspectives on the new year, and other sundry thoughts, but I need to inform you about a major issue affecting our world right now. I don't know if you knew this or not, but today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Did you know that this month has also been designated National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month?

Actually, I don't know if you know what human trafficking is. Let me start by laying out a definition. Human trafficking is the practice of people being tricked, lured, coerced or otherwise removed from their home or country and being compelled to work with no or low payment on terms which are highly exploitative. You can find out more about the issue by reading this wikipedia article too.

Many of the victims of trafficking are women and children. They are sold, enslaved, and forced to work for next to nothing. There are some great websites with resources for reporting this issue to others as well. A quick google search is extremely helpful, as is this blog post by my friend Charles Lee. He has listed 11 practical ideas to combat slavery.

I'm writing this post because I believe we all really need to be more aware of this issue. I think sometimes we can be guilty of thinking that this kind of thing happens only in big cities like Amsterdam (where some reports state that up to 75% of the prostitutes "working" in the red light district are victims of human trafficking) or Los Angeles. The truth is that this is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it could be happening in your neighborhood. I was in a small town not far from Morgantown late last year when I saw a "business" that looked like a text book case for a trafficking and slavery operation. After doing some further research I called the National Human Trafficking Hotline. 888 373 7888. If you have a cell phone, store it in your phone in case you see something that looks suspicious.

I also recommend tuning in to television programs/news today that may have a focus on this issue. It is estimated that there are over 27 million slaves in the world today (as I have blogged before), but we can reduce that number by understanding the issue better, and taking steps to combat the problem.

I hope you will join me in taking a step today and maybe starting a conversation at work, at school, or at home about this issue, and what everyday people like you and I can do to prevent this problem from growing.

Happy New Year everybody! Let's make 2010 the year of fighting injustice!

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