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More Than Just Awareness
One of my pet peeves is the phrase “raise awareness” (it’s an odd pet peeve, I know). It bugs me because too often it’s use as a general, feel-good term for activism that’s a bit nebulous and purposeless. I know it’s not always that way. Great people are doing great work to raise awareness of big issues—including human trafficking. But when someone says something about “raising awareness” I get frustrated if they don’t say how or toward what end—or worse, if they don’t even explain of what.
When there are approximately 27 million people enslaved in the world, we can hardly ignore such a pressing human rights issue and awareness is an important response. But even more troubling, only 42,000 of the 27 million enslaved were identified last year — less than one percent. Twelve years ago, the United States first enacted modern laws to address modern slavery, or human trafficking. Since then, awareness campaigns worldwide have brought attention to human trafficking. But to shrink the enormous gap between those enslaved and those who have been identified, it’s now time to transform that awareness into action.
As a concerned citizen: There are a number of things that you can do as a concerned citizen to help stop human trafficking and slavery in your neighborhood, community, and the world:
- Make sure what you have learned here doesn’t stop with you. Pass it on to someone else through Facebook and Twitter, or do it the old-fashioned way by just talking with a friend, neighbor or colleague who will share your concern.
- Know the signs of trafficking and be ready to report it.
- Learn more about what types of trafficking occurs in your country and city, and how the government and NGOs respond to it.
- Start asking questions – What does your child’s school teach about modern slavery? Are local police trained on how to detect and respond to trafficking? Does your employer have a supply chain free of forced labor? How can you determine whether a job offer and company are legitimate?
- Invest in and support socially responsible companies.
- Let elected officials and corporate leaders know that you want them to address this issue.
Melissa loves merging her passions for writing and for helping provide restoration for exploited people. She graduated from Miami University with a degree in Adolescent English Education and is a former middle school language arts teacher. She now works full time as an editor. Melissa has visited Freeset in Kolkata, India.
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