Slavery is not your great-grandfather’s issue
Slavery. The word alone conjures images that are not easily swept under the rug. This illicit “industry” generates more than 150 billion dollars a year, which is more than than the total combined worth of several prominent Fortune 500 companies. The idea that this is still happening is baffling. After all, didn’t men and women like Abraham Lincoln, Frederic Douglass, and Soujourner Truth work tirelessly to eradicate slavery? Didn’t the slave trade industry end one hundred fifty years ago?
It’s easy to feel that this issue no longer exists in the world we live in, but the sad reality is that, every year, people are being oppressed by their fellow men for personal gain with no end in sight. It might not look the way it once did, but make no mistake about it, it is still very prevalent today. A slave is someone who is controlled by another. This is through brutal force, sheer intimidation and unmitigated fear. This dark trade has grown to be the largest revenue-generating industry in the world. More than forty million people are effectively enslaved today. Tragically, one in four of those are children. From working for no or very little money in factories, to brick making, to the sex trade industry, children are routinely exploited by unscrupulous criminals who indiscriminately exercise their power on the weak and powerless. Sadly, this pandemic is spreading.
Enter International Justice Mission, an organization founded 20 years ago by Gary Haugen and comprised of an organized group of advocates, donors, investigators, social workers, lawyers, and government leaders committed to stopping the modern slave trade. It is the largest organization of its kind in the world, with intimate knowledge of where the people afflicted are located and an operational plan to save them. How do they do this? By introducing a new model: disruption. IJM works with local governments to provide incentives for local law enforcement to act against slave owners, increasing legal ramifications, and subsequently prosecute them to the full extent of the law. The result: a significant reduction in the number of people being forced to work as slaves. This proven model works, and more than 49,000 people have been freed with the help of IJM. A world without slavery is a very distinct possibility, and now, more than ever, we have the opportunity to get rid of this shameful problem once and for all. We owe it to the men, women, and children who deserve nothing less than a free life.
Wouldn’t it be incredible to play a part in changing history? How can you help? This isn’t a simple and cheap fight. As with most ambitious projects, the largest need is financial.
Visit ijm.org and learn how you can donate and get involved.
Words by Alissa Circle