by Amanda Kloer
Each year on January 11th, the U.S. celebrates National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. But this year, one coalition of anti-trafficking organizations is making today about more than just awareness. They’re launching a national initiative to make anti-trafficking efforts a priority and protect critical funding to fight trafficking.
There are more slaves in the world today than at any point in history. Slavery is more affordable, more wide-spread, and more entrenched in 2011 than it was in ancient Rome or the antebellum South of America. Modern-day slaves, also called human trafficking victims, can be male or female, from any country, or representing any ethnicity. They can be enslaved in any industry, although common industries include domestic servitude, agriculture, the commercial sex industry, factories, and the service industry. Human trafficking is truly a global crime.
But fortunately, so is the growing grassroots movement to fight it. Governments, businesses, civil society actors, and individuals are working harder than ever before to fight trafficking. They’re passing and enforcing laws, cleaning up corporate supply chains, and finding new ways to better protect vulnerable children. But even as we celebrate recent victories, we realize how much work the modern-day abolitionist movement has ahead of it.
This year, Congress and the Obama administration have the opportunity to make historic progress in the fight against modern-day slavery. Ending human trafficking is a bipartisan issue which should have the moral support of people from all nationalities, faith traditions, and political affiliations. There would be no reason not to protect or expand anti-trafficking legislation in 2011, other than Congress and the Obama administration failing to make it a priority.
That’s why the anti-trafficking coalition ATEST has launched a national campaign asking Congress and President Obama to make ending human trafficking in 2011 a priority by renewing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and protecting critical resources for the fight against human trafficking in the U.S. and around the world. Together, we can make this National Human Trafficking Awareness Day about both awareness and action.