Today, Pope Francis met with Orthodox, Anglican, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu representatives to sign a Declaration of Religious Leaders against Slavery. Pope Francis thanked those in attendance for making the public commitment to end modern slavery in all its forms. He spoke of the spirit of fraternity among believers, along with the knowledge that humans, created in God’s image and likeness, deserve dignity, regardless of their circumstances. (more…)
Tomorrow is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, a commemoration of the date of the adoption, by the General Assembly, of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (resolution 317(IV) of 2 December 1949). As part of the effort to help eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking across the world by 2020, Catholic, Anglican, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, and Orthodox leaders will gather at the Vatican tomorrow to sign a Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery.
Here are some things you should know about the modern slave trade:
What is modern-day slavery?
Modern-day slavery, also referred to as “trafficking in persons,” or “human trafficking,” describes the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.
How many people today are enslaved?
There are 35.8 million people living in some form of modern slavery, claims the Global Slavery Index. The Index is a report produced by the Walk Free Foundation, a global human rights organization dedicated to ending modern slavery.
This year’s Index estimates the number of people in modern slavery in 167 countries, and includes an analysis of what governments are doing to eradicate the this form of human suffering.
According to the Index, of those living in modern slavery 61 percent are in five countries: India, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Russia.
Seventy years ago this November, a new word entered the lexicon which would contextualize and put a name to the mass killings of minority groups that had gone on for centuries: genocide.
The Polish-Jewish lawyer who coined the word, Raphael Lemkin, used it for the first time in his book, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, published in November 1944. Lemkin had been deeply troubled with mass killing and the lack of legal framework for adjudication of its perpetrators from a young age. He found it appalling that in the name of “state sovereignty” a leader was effectively able to kill his own citizens, without punishment under the law.
Lemkin’s coining of the word was followed by a relentless, single-handed effort to lobby diplomats, heads of states, and then the newly formed United Nations to create a law which would make illegal this recently named crime against humanity. Lemkin’s efforts were eventually rewarded when on December 9, 1948 the United Nations General Assembly unanimously passed into law the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
History reveals many “crimes against humanity” which preceded this development in international law. The current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, notes a few of these in her book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.
And there are still many other largely unknown genocides that deserve our recognition. One of these will be covered in an upcoming Acton Institute art and lecture event on Thursday, November 6: “The Famine Remembered: Lessons from Ukraine’s Holodomor and Soviet Communism.”
One of the strongest voices in the fight against human trafficking belongs to a survivor. Rani Hong, founder of The Tronie Foundation, has a bright smile and warm eyes. Her placid face does not tell the story of her life, but her words do. She wants her voice to be heard so that others do not have to experience what she did as a child. (Her Twitter handle is @RanisVoice.) In preparation for a campaign called, “Everyone’s Kids, Everyone Gives,” Hong has four things she’d like everyone to know about child trafficking today.
First, anyone can be a victim. It does not just happen “over there,” in certain neighborhoods, or in large citites. The internet lures vulnerable young people every day; a trafficker develops a relationship with a young person, playing on their dreams and their vulnerabilities. If the young person has a troubled home life, the risk increases, but it’s not just young people living in high-risk situations who fall prey.
Second, the business of human trafficking is doing great. It’s one of the strongest parts of the nation’s and the global economy. (more…)
Today is the first World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, as declared by the United Nations. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement:
To stop the traffickers, we must sever funding pipelines and seize assets. I urge all countries to ratify and fully implement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.”
International Justice Mission is one of many organizations that fight human trafficking on a daily basis. They track down both victims and traffickers, with the hope of bringing traffickers to justice and help victims rebuild their lives. The video below tells the story of Suhana, a trafficking victim and the fight for justice.
CNN reports on why drug cartels are employing Fortune 500 practices to grow their businesses. Unfortunately, this means dealing in human trafficking.
Last week the State Department released the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report, a congressionally mandated report that looks at the governments around the world (including the U.S.) and what they are doing to combat trafficking in persons – modern slavery – through the lens of the 3P paradigm of prevention, protection, and prosecution.
Here are seven figures you should know from the latest report:
Rani Hong was a very young girl in rural India when her life was snatched away from her by human trafficking. In desperation, her mother allowed her to be taken away by a woman she thought she could trust, a woman who promised to care for Rami. And she did, for a while. However, the lure of money was too great and Rami was sold into human trafficking at age seven.
I was taken to an area where I did not know the language, where everyone was a stranger,” Hong recalls. “I cried for my mom to come and get me – that’s all a seven-year-old mind can understand.” Traumatized, she stopped eating and became physically and mentally ill. “My captors labeled me ‘destitute and dying,’ meaning that I had no value in the forced child labor market.” The only way the traffickers could profit from her, Hong explains, was to put her up for illegal international adoption. Trafficked into Canada, she was beaten, starved, and caged – “seasoned for submission,” in the parlance of her captors. A photo of her at age eight shows an emaciated little girl with prominent bruises on her arms and legs, whose eyes are swollen nearly shut. “I couldn’t even talk,” she says. “I had completely shut down.”
Over at the Kern Pastors Network blog, Greg Forster uses The Locust Effect – Gary Haugen’s new book on violence, poverty, and human trafficking – as a springboard for discussing the reach and interconnectedness of various Christian commitments.
“The moral commitments that mobilize evangelicals to fight human trafficking have much broader application,” he writes, “and point to the possibility of a larger Christian vision for the public square.”
Yet, for whatever reason, we continue to stall when it comes to expanding, integrating, and applying things such a direction:
These days, trafficking is the only public issue evangelical leaders are comfortable identifying as a gospel imperative. As a result, our people are highly mobilized and accomplishing a lot. On every other public issue, however, we’re paralyzed by endless debates. There are no shared commitments, nothing we’re allowed to agree on; there is only division between the Right and the Left. So we produce a lot of heated rhetoric, and nothing gets done…
…This perpetual division over everything has to change if the gospel is going to speak to the culture, if Christians are going to have an impact in the public square, and if local churches are going to be forces for flourishing in their communities. The human trafficking issue proves there is a way out of this dilemma, because it shows that we do have shared moral commitments. “The Locust Effect” is a good example of how to apply those commitments beyond just trafficking. The Kern Pastors Network, the Oikonomia Network, and others who are working to integrate faith, work, and economics can carry these principles even further.
Forster proceeds accordingly, applying such commitments to the realms of work and economics. (more…)