Image found on Pinterest
I’ve heard January be referred to as Human Trafficking
Awareness month.
As the beginning of research generally starts, I opened up
Google and typed in ‘Human Trafficking Awareness Month.’ Upon skimming through
the top few headlines one link in particular caught my eye. Posted by the White House, it was a letter that President Obama wrote announcing January 2014 to be
National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
Every part of me was filled with excitement.
This is exactly what we need.
Awareness is one thing, and a good thing, but prevention is
where we should be focused after awareness has been reached. Once you are
aware, there needs to be another step involved– something practical and
tangible and that, my friends, is Prevention.
I know, I know. You might be thinking ‘How can I prevent
You may not be actively involved in the sex trade, which is
where most of the attention on human trafficking tends to go, so you don’t
think you are involved and actively growing the 2nd largest criminal
industry in the world. Think about it, if human trafficking and modern-day slavery were
only about sex, would it be the fastest growing criminal industry in the world?
While some may answer yes, I would guess probably not.
Human Trafficking and Slavery exists in every area of our
lives—from the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, to the electronics we use.
What we use for entertainment and enjoyment, someone is paying the ultimate
price with their life for its creation—and often we don’t think about it.
If you read my blog, you’re probably already aware. I’ve
written numerous posts regarding human trafficking and modern day slavery; I
documented my time in Thailand working in a Children’s Home with those who have
been either exploited or at risk for exploitation, I’ve written about my life
changing experience with Not For Sale, I’ve challenged you to end slavery in
your life by participating in ethical holidays and being a conscious consumer.
Awareness is all around us—from activists to slacktivists, organizations like
IJM, Not For Sale, Love 146 and World Vision and even campaigns like MTV Exit and the
A21 Campaign.
Time for prevention.
As I was reading Mr. Obama’s letter, I fell in love with
this paragraph that is a call to both action and duty.

“As we work to dismantle trafficking networks and help
survivors rebuild their lives, we must also address the underlying forces that
push so many into bondage. We must develop economies that create legitimate
jobs, build a global sense of justice that says no child should ever be
exploited, and empower our daughters and sons with the same chances to pursue
their dreams. This month, I call on every nation, every community, and every
individual to fight human trafficking wherever it exists. Let us declare as one
that slavery has no place in our world, and let us finally restore to all
people the most basic rights of freedom, dignity, and justice.”

That is prevention—changing the way we have lived our lives
up until this point. Ethical business practices, a sense of world community,
knowing the basic rights of freedom, dignity and justice are the foundation for a
world that can thrive.
Below are what I think of when I contemplate prevention and
steps we can take, as every day individuals who understand the value of the
human life, to no longer see any more innocent victims to something that
is preventable.
1 – Make sure you know the facts
Awareness is the first step to prevention. Do you know what
human trafficking is? When someone asks do you find yourself stumbling upon
what the exact definition is? Spreading basic awareness is as simple as knowing
the definition and having some examples of what it is.
Image taken from Not For Sale
2 – Educate yourself on your personal contribution to the
continuation of modern-day slavery.
Take just one hour out of your day and search out
information on the companies of the clothing you happen to be wearing.
Free2Work is a great place to learn about companies. Think of what you are
planning on eating for dinner—research what kind of slavery exists in the
growing, harvesting and production of what you are planning to eat. Did you
know people work in factories peeling shrimp? There are documented cases of
exploitation (unfair wages and working conditions to name two of the issues) to
those workers peeling shrimp. Are you using a laptop to do your research? Labor
issues around Apple have been documented and are easy to find upon doing a
google search. And check out Slavery Footprint to see a rough estimate of how
many slaves are working for you.  This isn’t meant to make you feel bad—but to make you aware of your personal
Screen Shot from the Slavery Footprint Questionnaire
There are 30 slaves working for me– my personal Slavery Footprint results!
3 – Research alternatives to your current lifestyle
Instead of shopping at Forever 21, shop at H&M. Buy
second hand clothing where the money goes to a charity instead of the company
who originally made the garment. Instead of buying chocolate from Hershey or
Nestle, buy from Divine or AlterEco. Try to buy locally made products (even if
they are a little more pricey). While it may be impossible to cut out slavery
from your entire life, your purchasing power says a lot and changing a few
basic parts of your shopping habits can make a difference in the long run. Check out for company ratings to see how your favourite brands compare to others.
4 – Be the change.
Ethical leaders are needed for real change to happen.
Planning on starting a business? Do it right from the start. Be a person who is
committed, in whatever they set out to do, to do it in such a way that doesn’t
allow the exploitation of some for the your own personal gain. Find out you’re
surprisingly passionate about the cause? Start a blog, share your story of
justice-seeking, speak to others. Combine your current passions with a goal to
end slavery.
David Batstone, founder of Not For Sale, posted a quote on
his Twitter feed that was retweeted by MTV Exit where I happened to stumble
upon it. It goes like this:
I encourage you, not only during Human Trafficking Awareness
and Prevention Month but also throughout the year, to do just that– change your
view of slavery where your current life finds you and design creative ways to
come against it. Be pro-love  and be the
change that is needed to end modern-day slavery.

What are some creative ways you have found to raise
awareness or prevent human trafficking?