An abolitionist is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “A person who favors the abolition of any law or practice deemed harmful to society.” This terminology was used in the past to define those individuals who fought for an end to slavery in the United States, and continued to be used to define anyone who was a part of a movement to end injustice in our society. The abolition of slavery in the United States in the 19th century was viewed as a victory and everyone believed that slavery in the United States was officially over.
The truth is slavery still exists in our current society, but it manifests itself in many forms. Human trafficking is Modern Day Slavery. As you are reading this article someone is being enslaved. A child is being forced into a life of sexual exploitation, and children and adults are forced to work in sweatshops, homes, local businesses, factories and agriculture. “There are an estimated 28 million people trapped in some form of slavery today. It’s sometimes called “modern-day slavery” and sometimes called “human trafficking.” At all times, it is slavery at its core.” (endslaverynow.org)
In 2011, President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. President Obama stated, “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.”
I appeal to you to join the movement to abolish human trafficking in Connecticut. Human trafficking is a crime that is impacting the lives of our citizens. In 2015, the CT Department of Children and Families (DCF) received 132 referrals of high risk and confirmed victims of human trafficking. Since 2008, DCF has received 431 referrals.
The organization Abolition Today does an excellent job of highlighting all the ways in which an individual can take action to abolish human trafficking. Here are the six phases of abolition they identified:
- Awareness: Educating others that slavery, in fact still exists and illustrating what may be done about it.
- Policymaking: Creating public and private policies that support the eradication of slavery, which is necessary to enforcing change.
- Rescue: Emancipating individuals from their slavers and physically removing them from enslavement situations.
- Prosecution: Legally enforcing criminal and civil laws aimed to prevent slavery, which makes it riskier for future slavers to exploit others.
- Aftercare: Providing aftercare services to former enslaved individuals, so that they can effectively heal and re-enter society.
- Empowerment: Generating real, authentic opportunities for survivors, so they are no longer vulnerable or target for enslavement.
There are many ways you can choose to take action and make a difference. You can educate yourself and then educate others. You can obtain information on this topic from the DCF HART, Polaris, and Love 146 websites. You can support legislation that is geared towards the eradication of this crime. You can find out more about legislative efforts from our Trafficking in Person Council through the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW). You can volunteer for or contribute to an organization working with human trafficking survivors such as Love 146 or IICONN (the International Institute of Connecticut).
Your efforts, whatever they may be, will impact the lives of those at risk for or are being trafficked.
Are you the next Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony or Frederick Douglas? These abolitionists understood that, as Martin Luther King Jr said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” My question to you today is: Are you willing to take a stand for justice and do what you can to ensure the abolition of human trafficking? My sincere hope is that your answer is yes, because victims of human trafficking need you.
What step will you take to abolish human trafficking and become an abolitionist?