How Can We Fix the Problem?
The problem is big (huge, even), but don’t be discouraged. Small actions make a big difference—especially when more people get involved. The news is more and more full of stories about human trafficking, but there’s more and more good news as everyday abolitionist like you get involved in putting an end to this crime.
Use your skills and gifts
The best way to end trafficking is to look at what you’re already good at or love doing and find a way to use it to help end human trafficking. Do you love writing? Compose blog posts, Facebook statuses, and letters to congressmen or trafficking victims. Are you a musician? Write a song or play at a benefit concert. Good with finance? Help a rescue organization or a survivor of trafficking organize and use their money. Love to bake? Host a bake sale for an organization. Love accessorizing? Shop Stop Traffick Fashion (of course!). The possibilities are endless. Never underestimate the power of your passions.
Find out what to watch for and report trafficking
Don’t try to confront the trafficker or rescue the victim yourself. This is dangerous work. If you see something that worries you, contact one of these tip lines:
- • The Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement: Call (866) 347-2423 or use the online form.
• Polaris Project: 1-888-373-7888 for help and information and to report possible instances of trafficking.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security lists warning signs and has an awareness training video. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists these indicators to look for:
- • Evidence of being controlled
• Evidence of an inability to move or leave job
• Bruises or other signs of battering
• Fear or depression
• Non-English speaking
• Recently brought to this country from Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America, Canada, Africa or India
• Lack of passport, immigration or identification documentation
Support law makers and law enforcement
IJM is a great source of information on justice in legislation. Their Facebook page and email updates will give you a heads up on items that need action. Make sure you know your state and federal senators and representatives names. A quick, easy call to your senator can help sway the law in the way of justice.
Find out what your local police are doing to fight trafficking. Support them by using local tip lines and voicing the need to make training to identify trafficking victims a priority.
Support education and opportunities for women
Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn will give you great ideas. You can tutor at-risk girls in your community or fund a microloan for a mother through World Vision or Kiva. Follow the STF blog for more ideas.
Support organizations who work with trafficking victims
(There’s an annotated list in the resources section). Here are just a few to get you started: Hagar International, the International Justice Mission, Magdalene House, and The Polaris Project. Money does help. At Hagar, $25 buys books and materials to teach one woman to read; $50 pays for intensive counseling services for one month; $100 yields one week’s care for a woman at Hagar Women’s Shelter; $250 funds school tuition for one child, for one year; and $500 pays for three months’ training program to prepare one woman for sustainable employment. New Hope Christian Ministries of Pakistan was able to purchase the freedom of a family enslaved in a brick kiln for just $200.
Be an ethical consumer
There are lots of ways to make your spending habit more ethical. Certified fair trade products hold to a system of ethics and accountability that makes sure workers are treated fairly at every stage of the production process. This way you can be sure that slaves didn’t produce the product. Plus, workers who are paid fairly aren’t entrapped by poverty—they’re able to educate and protect their families from traffickers. Free2Work is a great resource to educate yourself as a consumer. When you can’t find a fair trade option or something your confident will have a positive impact, Free2Work can help you pick the better option between two retailers. This website (there’s also an app for reference while you’re shopping) shows you which companies do not have forced, trafficked, or child labor in their production. Each company is grade based on the ethical choice the business makes. So in the absence of an A+ choice, you’ll be able to find out who got a B- and chose them over a company that got a D-. Better World Shopping Guide is a similar app you can use when you’re shopping. Rather than getting overwhelmed by choices, choose a few items that you use often, like coffee or chocolate, and commit to buy fair trade. Read this post on ethical fashion and follow the blog to get more ethical spending tips.
If you can’t find ethical shopping options, tell retailers that’s what you want. Tell the manager of your grocery store why fair trade is important and participate in Call+Response‘s Chain Store Reaction.
Tell others abut human trafficking
This is as easy as reposting news stories on your Facebook page or telling the cashier at the grocery why you’re buying fair trade coffee. The Stop Traffick Fashion blog and the CNN Freedom Project will keep you supplied with information to share. Plus, you can be part of this hopeful statistic shared by CNN: “Nearly 2,000 people have come out of slavery, either directly or indirectly, as a result of the hundreds of stories broadcast on air and published online.” It’s even easier to tell others if you become an STF Social Media Ambassador or throw an STF Home Party.