President Barack Obama has declared January 2013 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, followed by National Freedom Day on Feb. 1.
The President issued a proclamation on Dec. 31 stating that in January the American people will “rededicate ourselves to stopping one of the greatest human rights abuses of our time,” known as human trafficking or modern-day slavery.
President Obama explains that we can help combat human trafficking this month and in months to follow by raising awareness and through involvement with anti-human trafficking groups. You can find such groups and other anti-human trafficking resources in your area through the Polaris Project. The Abolish Slavery Coalition also offers a variety of ways in which you can help end slavery.
“Around the world, millions of men, women, and children are bought, sold, beaten, and abused, locked in compelled service and hidden in darkness. They toil in factories and fields; in brothels and sweatshops; at sea, abroad, and at home,” President Obama states, referring to the estimated 27 million human trafficking victims worldwide whose souls have been traded and sold into slavery, making human trafficking the second-largest criminal industry in the world with an annual profit of $32 billion. “We have recognized (human trafficking) as a debasement of our common humanity and an affront to the principles we cherish. And for more than a century, we have made it a national mission to bring slavery and human trafficking to an end.”
As part of our national mission to end slavery, the President explains that his Administration has strengthened protections in order for workers to know their rights, extended and reinforced efforts to identify and rescue victims, and released new resources to bust trafficking networks. He vows to continue the fight to end modern-day slavery in the United States by sanctioning law enforcement and investigators with appropriate training, securing rehabilitation and self-sufficiency programs to help human trafficking survivors rebuild their lives, and by providing resources to help create and integrate the use of technology to prevent human trafficking by protecting potential victims.
In recognizing that “no country can meet the challenge (of abolishing slavery) alone,” the President states in his proclamation that the United States has aided nations worldwide in caring for survivors, in helping determine the root of slavery in order to combat the soul-enslaving crime, and by encouraging countries to establish and enforce anti-human trafficking laws.
“We know the road ahead is long, and change will not come easily,” President Obama states. “But as we renew our pledge to erase modern forms of slavery from the face of this earth, let us also draw strength from the movements of the past. These achievements once seemed impossible – but on this day, let us remember that they were not, and let us press on toward the future we know is possible.”
About the Author
Melissa Grace Hoon is the Managing Editor for the Abolish Slavery Coalition. She is a victim advocate and a human rights journalist with a Master’s degree in American studies where she focused on slavery, gendered violence and victimization. She is a freelance reporter for the Orange County Register and volunteers with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force.