Shining a Light on Slavery

Author: Katherina Toews

“Nothing happens just because we are aware of modern-day slavery, but nothing will ever happen until we are.” Gary Haugen – CEO, International Justice Mission

We just wrapped up January which was Human Trafficking Awareness Month. But as we step into this new month it’s important to remember that advocacy is not a one-time donation but rather a year round mindset. There are countless opportunities for us to continue to raise awareness; from the clothes we buy, the websites we frequent, the people we follow on social media, and what we choose to consume. Some of these choices are subtle and may go unnoticed by the people around us. But there are a couple of things that we can do today, tomorrow, and the next day that will bring attention to our cry for freedom. One of those things is as easy drawing a red on your hand.

On February 7th people from all over the world will come together in solidarity and publicly speak out against human trafficking and modern day slavery. What I’m talking about is an international campaign to spark conversations about trafficking and to help raise awareness about this often willfully overlooked topic. This campaign is called the End It Movement,and since its inception in 2012 there have been over 2,700,000,000 impressions of this red X. That means that the truth has been told, lives have been saved, and the eyes of over two billion people have been opened over the span of seven years.

In 2012 the leading organizations in the fight against human trafficking around the world came together for a Freedom Summit in Atlanta. It was there amongst the statics and facts and stories that they came to realise the most staggering truth of all: that most of the world knew nothing about the largest human rights issue of its time. “Out of that Freedom Summit, The END IT Movement emerged as a vehicle for awareness. The first step in addressing a problem is to admit you have one. The goal was clear; to leave no hiding place for slavery to exist unseen and unchallenged. The people of the world would begin shining a light on slavery.”

Something as easy as drawing a red X on your hand may seem like a simple solution to a larger problem; like putting a band aid on a broken leg. However, you’d be amazed by the impact it can have and the opportunities it will open up for you. Anyone from your boss to your barista might stop and ask why you have an on your hand, giving you the opportunity to share with them. Sometimes it can be scary advocating for something as dark and devastating as human trafficking, and at times we would rather quietly advocate from our social media accounts than publicly speak out. But I want to tell you that there is power in our words, in your words. There is power in interrupting people’s every day lives, in forcing them to face the facts head on instead of just scrolling past them. There is power in joining arms with thousands of people around the globe and marching forward declaring that we have had enough of exploiting one another! There is power in loving people we have never even met.

“Afterall, action starts with awareness”

The End It Movement works with 16 coalition partners that work at different stages in the freedom process. From manning hotlines to busting down doors, and from prosecuting traffickers to walking alongside those trapped; these organizations work hard so that we will see the end of modern day slavery in our life time.

I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone today. To take 30 seconds out of your morning to draw a red on your hand and then see how it impacts the rest of your day. Together we can be an army demanding the freedom of our trapped brothers and sisters…

Together we can see chains broken and people see free! All by being brave and drawing a simple symbol on our hand. Will you help to end it?