“How could this ever happen?” This or similar thoughts form when we come across old woodcuts or pictures depicting historical slavery. Sadly, the practice of slavery has yet to be relegated to the history books. According to the most recent Global Slavery Index, nearly 36 million enslaved people exist worldwide; resulting in $150 billion of illicit profits each year.
Greed combined with the lack of political will and/or resources in many countries, help create an environment where human traffickers openly operate with near impunity. However, organizations such as the International Justice Mission, have developed proven anti-human trafficking models that successfully rescue and restore victims while bringing the perpetrators of slavery to justice.
Earlier this week I traveled to Washington, D.C. and joined 250 other people from across the United States in meeting our members of Congress and their staff to voice our support for increased national funding for proven anti-trafficking efforts. Specifically, we asked our elected officials to support the Corker-Lee End Modern Slavery Act of 2015. The act would establish a non-profit grant making body that would over the next seven years seek to raise $1.5 billion (80% of this would come from foreign governments and the private sector) and produce a 50% reduction of modern slavery in targeted areas. Under the act, the U.S. would invest a total of $250 million into the fund via seven $36 million annual payments; equating to $1 each year for each enslaved person. While all the elected officials we met with denounced the scourge of human trafficking, they offered varying levels of support for increased U.S. spending on this issue.
When speaking to his contemporaries about the evils of the transatlantic slave trade, 19th Century abolitionists William Wilberforce is quoted as saying “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” The same is true for us today. As we decide how we will respond to the evil of modern slavery, let us remember the words of Jesus, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40) and act boldly on behalf of the millions of enslaved people around the world. Let us decide now what future generations will think of us as they examine how we responded to the slavery in our midst.
Specific ways you can help combat modern slavery:
- Educate yourself and others about the reality of modern day slavery
- Support Anti-Human Trafficking Organizations
- Ask your members of Congress to support the Corker-Lee End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015