Twenty-first-Century Abolitionists—What You Can Do to End Slavery
history of slavery in the United States, we often think to ourselves that we would have joined forces with Harriet Tubman or the Quakers who were so instrumental in forming what we call the Underground Railroad. Knowing that slavery exists today, how can we turn away from the reality that abolitionists are needed even in the twenty-first century? How can we let slavery last yet another century? How can we allow our children to live in a world in which slavery still exists? How can we hear the voices of these survivors and not join forces with them today? Ending slavery is not all about kicking down doors and carrying victims to safety. Ending slavery is most certainly not about buying people’s freedom, which only supports the market for slaves. As we can see from the powerful stories collected in this book, working to eradicate slavery today involves raising awareness, raising money, and raising a storm of action. Many of us feel helpless when confronted with the enormity of the problem: 27 million people enslaved. We should not feel daunted, however, because mathematically this number is the smallest percentage of the world’s population to be enslaved in all of human history. What we have to do is make sure that people speak out about their intolerance of slavery and that governments enforce their laws. There are so many ways you can help to stop slavery at both the global and local level, and just a few of them are listed here. Become an abolitionist. when we learn about the
awa r ene s s
1. Encourage your reading group or your classmates or your friends and family to read this book and discuss ways you might get involved in the cause. Give out copies of it for holidays and birthdays. All author proceeds from the book go to antislavery organizations! 2. Remember the facts. Tell others. Memorize statistics about slavery so that you can make people see how urgent and important this issue is. And remember the stories shared by survivors here. Tell friends and family and strangers about the very real people who are being affected by slavery every day. 3. Make your commitment public. Post links and information about modernday slavery and your activism for this cause on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or your website or blog. Put a sign in your window or on your door reminding people that slavery still exists. Encourage friends to find out more and get involved. 4. Invite a speaker to your school, community group, or religious service. Many of the people who contributed to this book are brilliant public speakers and are eager to tell your community more about modern-day slavery. Their contact information is included at the end of this book. You can also learn about survivor activists who are speakers at the Survivors of Slavery website, www.survivorsofslavery.org. 5. Have a house party or host a screening of one of the documentaries listed in the “Suggested Reading and Viewing” section of this book (appendix C). Many people turn these parties into fund-raising opportunities as well. 6. Write an op-ed column for your local paper to alert people to the problem of modern-day slavery. 7. Make help available in public places: distribute posters, brochures, and other materials about trafficking in places where many people gather, such as cafeterias, cafes, classrooms, public libraries, community bulletin boards. Make coffee holders and coasters to give to restaurants and bars. Download materials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “about trafficking” web page, www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking/about/form.htm. 8. Keep a blog about recent human-trafficking cases and the development of laws to eradicate slavery around the world. Ask your local paper to run your pieces on its website. 9. Prepare caretakers and encourage health care providers and law enforcement officials to be aware of the signs of human trafficking. Give repairmen
this information because they are often the people who witness what goes on in a home. If you work in one of these environments, download resource guides from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “Rescue and Restore Campaign Tool Kits” web page, www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking/ campaign_kits/index.html. 10. Keep yourself updated on laws, trafficking prosecutions, and breakthroughs in the movement to remain a reliable source of information for the people you are educating. 11. Watch for cases of human trafficking and call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 888-373-7888 if you know someone in need. A list of signs that someone has been trafficked or is enslaved is given in appendix B. 12. Tell your children. We can hope that by the time they are adults, slavery will finally be history. This is not a problem we want to pass on to the next generation. act i v i sM and c a M pai g ni ng
1. Volunteer or intern for organizations such as Free the Slaves, the Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking, or the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. The many worthwhile organizations fighting slavery listed in appendix A would be happy to put you to work. 2. Utilize the skills you already have. If you are a web designer, artist, printer, researcher, writer, publisher, journalist, photographer, teacher, typist, transcriber, event planner, the movement can use your help! If you are a nurse, doctor, law enforcement agent, caretaker, service provider, social worker, organize workshops to inform people about how to spot victims of human trafficking. If you work for a shelter, food pantry, mental health clinic, housing office, women’s health clinic, help start or join a task force of service providers who can respond to a person who has been trafficked in your area. If you cook, sew, farm, make art, teach English, do data entry or word processing, lend your skills to a survivor’s job-training program at a local antislavery or other labor organization. 3. If you own a business or work for a major corporation, research the production chain through which your products are made and ensure that slavery is not a part of it. Require your suppliers to conform to fair-labor standards. Learn strategies to implement socially responsible
labor practices from the United Nations Global Compact website, www.unglobalcompact.org. If you employ people in any way, especially if they are from another country—whether as a nanny or as a factory worker or as a temp—be sure to understand the channels through which your employees are hired and employed. When possible, hire survivors of human trafficking to help them support their lives after liberation. Learn about best practices at the website Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking, www.bestalliance.org. Lobby your national, state, and local politicians to produce legislation that supports the rights and rehabilitation of survivors of human trafficking and that levels serious penalties on traffickers and other perpetrators. Consume products wisely. Buy fair-trade products whenever possible. Visit the Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International at www.fairtrade.net to find out if the products you regularly buy are made by slaves or if the company ignores human trafficking or slavery in their production line. Learn at the Chain Store Reaction website, http://chainstorereaction.com, whether a brand you like has responded to the call to end slave labor in the production of its products. Start a group at your school or university that supports ending modern-day slavery. Free the Slaves has student chapters all over the country (see www. freetheslaves.net/students). Start a campaign on campus to ensure that your school buys products that are slave free. If they haven’t already, encourage your school to join the Workers’ Rights Consortium, www.workersrights. org, a nonprofit group that monitors labor rights by investigating factories around the world. Walk for the cause of ending slavery. For instance, the DC Stop Modern Slavery Walk helps to raise thousands of dollars to help fund organizations that work to eradicate slavery all around the world. Or start your own march or run or swim or walk. Campaign for airlines to provide training manuals and make flight attendants aware that workers may be trafficked on international flights. Ask that they provide flight attendants with proper training to spot victims. The manual can be found at the Innocents at Risk website, www.innocentsatrisk.org/ about/what-we-do.
fun di ng
1. Invest in abolition by making a donation that will pay the salary of a liberator who risks his or her life to rescue slaves at websites such as http://www. freetheslaves.net. Research shows that a $10 monthly donation has more of an effect for the maintenance of important programming at nonprofit organizations than any other kind of giving. Make a commitment today to the organization of your choice. 2. Purchase items made by rescued slaves to help support them on their road to recovery and rehabilitation at the Made by Survivors website, www. madebysurvivors.com. Give them as gifts. Sell them at a fund-raiser. Host a jewelry party to sell the survivorsâ€™ beautiful artistic work of survivors. 3. Hold a fund-raiser such as a block party or golfing event or dance-a-thon or battle of the bands in your town to raise money and send to organizations working to end slavery. 4. Raise money for scholarships for survivors of slavery. Many survivors are struggling to get the education they need to avoid the vicious cycle of enslavement. 5. Invest in microcredit programs, such as Kiva, at www.kiva.org, to help people avoid the very worst forms of poverty that can lead to labor exploitation and enslavement.