Today our nation celebrates National Freedom Day, which commemorates the day in 1865 when the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery was sent to the states for ratification. It is also the culmination of January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
Around the world, as many as 27 million people are still victimized in human trafficking, or modern slavery. This scourge occurs everywhere in the world -- including our own country. However, there is progress. Here in the United States, nearly every state has some form of anti-trafficking legislation -- and Wyoming is poised soon to become the last state to criminalize modern slavery. The passage of this bill, and others like it, is due in no small part to the work and advocacy of non-governmental organizations, victim service providers, legislators, and concerned citizens like you. As we celebrate the enduring promise of freedom embodied in the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution, I hope you will join the continuing struggle to end modern slavery and become a modern day abolitionist. Here are 10 ways you might get involved:
1. Learn the red flags that may indicate human trafficking and ask follow up questions so that you can help identify a potential trafficking victim. Human trafficking awareness training is available for individuals, businesses, first responders, law enforcement, and federal employees.
2. In the United States, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888 (24/7) to get help and connect with a service provider in your area, report a tip with information on potential human trafficking activity; or learn more by requesting training, technical assistance, or resources. Call federal law enforcement directly to report suspicious activity and get help from the Department of Homeland Security at 1-866-347-2423 (24/7), or submit a tip online at www.ice.gov/tips, or from the U.S. Department of Justice at 1-888-428-7581 from 9:00am to 5:00pm (ET). Victims, including undocumented individuals, are eligible for services and immigration assistance.
3. Be a conscientious consumer. Discover your Slavery Footprint, and check out the Department of Labor's List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. Encourage companies, including your own, to take steps to investigate and eliminate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains and to publish the information for consumer awareness.
4. Incorporate human trafficking information into your professional associations' conferences, trainings, manuals, and other materials as relevant.
5. Join or start a grassroots anti-trafficking coalition.
6. Meet with and/or write to your local, state, and federal government representatives to let them know that you care about combating human trafficking in your community, and ask what they are doing to address human trafficking in your area.
8. Volunteer to do victim outreach or offer your professional services to a local anti-trafficking organization.
9. Donate funds or needed items to an anti-trafficking organization in your area.
10. Encourage your local schools to partner with students and include the issue of modern day slavery in their curriculum. As a parent, educator, or school administrator, be aware of how traffickers target school-aged children.
As President Obama proclaimed, we renew our call on all Americans to recognize the vital role we can play in ending all forms of slavery. You can find 10 more ways to help fight human trafficking in our fact sheet, and take a stand for freedom.