There are more than 30 million people enslaved in the world today, according to the nonprofit group Not for Sale, a group that raises awareness and aid for victims of human trafficking. The group says that there are more slaves today “than at any other point in human history.”
Noel Thomas operates an organization that combats human trafficking internationally. His organization, Redeem the Shadows, grew out of his own firsthand experience touring Europe in a rock band. “While I was there, I learned that children who were five years old were being sold as sex slaves,” he recalls. “It made me sick to think that people could commit such an injustice against these children.”
According to the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, human trafficking is “an umbrella term used to describe the activities involved when someone obtains or holds a person in compelled service.” The State Department website says that the multiple forms of enslavement encompassed by the term “trafficking” are covered in the United States' Trafficking Victims Protection Act, and include “forced labor, sex trafficking, bonded labor, debt bondage, involuntary domestic servitude, forced child labor, child soldiers, and child sex trafficking,” according to the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. “The Office has responsibility for bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, targeted foreign assistance, and public engagement on this issue of modern slavery and partners with foreign governments and civil society to develop and implement effective counter-trafficking strategies.”
The CNN Freedom Project has been instrumental in raising awareness of the once hidden issue of human trafficking. By exposing the traffickers, highlighting countries where trafficking is most prevalent, and vividly describing the lives of modern-day slaves, the project aims to end modern-day slavery. Research made available by the CNN Freedom Project reveals that trafficking in persons is a lucrative enterprise.
“Ranking behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking, human trafficking is estimated to be the third largest international crime industry, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,” according to CNN. “It is believed to generate profits of an estimated $32 billion, according to a 2005 report from the International Labour Organization.“ And according to the CNN Freedom Project, of that number, more than $15 billion “is made in industrialized countries.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been vocal on the issue, stating, “Modern slavery – be it bonded labor, involuntary servitude, or sexual slavery – is a crime and cannot be tolerated in any culture, community, or country. … [It] is an affront to our values and our commitment to human rights.”
Each year the U.S. Department of State releases a report on human trafficking. The State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons is headed by Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, who focuses on “global engagement against human trafficking,” as described on the State Department website.
After learning about the realities of human trafficking, Noel Thomas began using his platform as a musician to raise awareness, eventually traveling to India to film a short documentary on children in the brothels. “After seeing victims first hand, I decided to dedicate my life and talents to fighting modern day slavery,” he says. “In just two years we have traveled throughout the world raising awareness, speaking in over 40 cities worldwide. Our organization works in raising awareness, teaching prevention, and we are aiming to open our first rehabilitation home this year to combat trafficking in America.”
Thomas says that although the issue of trafficking is daunting, individuals can make a difference. “I would encourage people to discover how their passions and talents can be applicable to fighting modern day slavery,” he says. “There are a wide range of talents and creativity that can be used. I think that social media gives the issue more of a voice. Also I think supporting non-profits that are on the ground working with victims through volunteering, donations, and spreading the word is vital.”
Earlier this month participants in the Passion 2012 conference, a gathering of Christian college students, raised over 2.6 million to combat human trafficking, making national headlines.
Thomas is convinced that people can make a powerful difference in the lives of victims of trafficking. He says that Redeem the Shadows partners with a safe home on the West Coast of Florida that just works in rehabilitation for victims of human trafficking. One of the former victims is seeing some positive changes in her life. “This girl is now getting ready to go to college,” he says. “It's a great example on how there is hope in restoration.”
Readers can get involved in combating human trafficking through working with a number of nonprofit organizations, including the following:
The Polaris Project -- “This organization works on all forms of human trafficking and serves victims of slavery and human trafficking.”
Redeem the Shadows -- “Redeem the Shadows stands united to abolish modern day slavery through awareness, mobilization and rehabilitation of trafficked victims for the glory of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Not For Sale -- “The Not for Sale Campaign combines technology, intellectual capital, abolitionist groups and a growing network of individuals like yourself – joined together to end slavery in our lifetime.”
Kristin Butler is a contributing writer at Crosswalk.com, where she covers topics related to human rights, religious freedom, and refugee resettlement. For further articles, visit her website at kristinbutler.net or email [email protected].
Publication date: January 11, 2012