January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in the United States. Here are three things to know about it that will help you be an effective advocate in your sphere of influence:
What It Is:
January was first declared Human Trafficking Prevention Month by presidential proclamation in 2010, and has been so every year by the White House since. The first proclamation ten years ago stated that “[m]illions of people worldwide are held in compelled service, as well as thousands within the United States…we acknowledge that forms of slavery still exist in the modern era, and we recommit ourselves to stopping the human traffickers who ply this horrific trade.”
It culminated a decade in which significant strides were made in identifying and addressing the injustice of trafficking. In 2000, the United Nations adopted what is commonly referred to as the Palermo Protocol to combat trafficking in persons globally, and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (“TVPA”) became law in the U.S.
These legal instruments created momentum that has generated innumerable laws, research, task forces, education campaigns, victim services, NGOs/nonprofit organizations, films/documentaries, and freedom businesses over the past two decades.
Why It Matters:
Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11th, refocuses our collective attention on the reality that over 40 million people are trapped in modern slavery (including almost 5 million in forced sexual exploitation) and that the perpetrators and facilitators of that evil take in perhaps $150 billion every year.
It reminds us that though much has been accomplished in combatting slavery and exploitation, more is yet to be done, and though January is a new beginning to the year, many more “new beginnings” are yet to be initiated for those still suffering in bondage.
How To Engage:
Each of us can take the opportunity this month to learn and apply information like that above, and share it with others in our network.
We can increase our awareness, look beneath the surface of our familiar surroundings, and utilize the National Human Trafficking Hotline if we see suspected trafficking activity.
We can support and spread the word about effective NGOs/nonprofits––such as Savhera partners like Shakti Vahini, Valiant Hearts, and many other incredible organizations––and commit to buying from companies that are using business as a force for good.
And we can do the deeper work of “being the change” we want to see, including scrutinizing our choices and behaviors and rejecting words and deeds that contribute to a culture of wastefulness, degradation, and exploitation.
Together, we can “diffuse dignity” this month, and every month to come throughout this new year and new decade!