Shine a Light on Slavery Day

The End It Movement is a coalition of 10 organizations dedicated to end human slavery.  What started out as various groups and charities with their own unique voices against human slavery became a grassroots movement.  This movement led to the union of voices with one purpose and mission, to spread awareness that human slavery still exists today.  February 27th marks the Shine A Light On Slavery Day.  The End It Movement is asking everyone to draw a red X on their hands, and when people proceed to ask what this red X is for to tell everyone about human slavery.

27 million people in the world today are slaves.  27 million.  That’s one million more people than the entire population of Texas.  There are more slaves today than during any other time in history, more slaves today than during colonization, more slaves today than during the civil war, more slaves today than any other point and time since humanity began.

Human slavery can be anywhere and involve anyone.  It could be the woman standing on a street corner or in a strip club you think is there by their own free will.  It could be the man and woman online having so called consensual sex, while the enslaver is behind the camera.  It could be the man, woman, or child, forced to make the clothes you wear, the food you eat, and the cell phone you use every day.  It could even be your neighbor’s maid.  Point is, slavery still exists.  It is alive in 161 countries around the world, and is bringing in 17,500 more slaves to the US each year, on top of the 200, 000 people already enslaved in the US.

There is no set image for who a slave is or could be.  However, 80% of slaves are women while 50% of slaves are children.  Most of the people susceptible to slavery are those living with a low socio-economic status, in harsh impoverished conditions, and unstable backgrounds.  Yet, this does not negate the fact and warning that anyone anywhere could be captured and forced into slavery.

In fact, events such as Formula 1, South by South West, and even the Super Bowl have been known to involve people in attendance where their main goal is to find and capture another potential victim.  If you ever see something that remotely looks like a person is in danger of human slavery call the Polaris Project (Coalition member of the End It Movement) National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or text INFO or HELP to 233733 (Be Free), or contact your local police department.  Austin Police Department has its very own unit dedicated to human trafficking.

Shine A Light On Slavery Day birthed last year.  Millions of people across the nation wore the red X on their hands and told people about human slavery.  These people also posted their red X on social media outlets including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with the hashtag #Enditmovement to further spread the word.  Even in its first year of fruition, Shine A Light On Slavery Day garnered national attention appearing on multiple local and national news outlets focusing on people, celebrities, students, entire campuses who wore the red X and took the step to fight against human slavery.  Hopes are that in 2014, the second year of Shine A Light On Slavery Day will bring even more attention to human slavery than the last.

However, awareness is not the whole answer.  It is just part one.  The part two is that Shine A Light On Slavery Day would simply be the first day of everyone’s journey to continuing on to end human slavery.  Students get involved with an organization on campus or in your community that works to eradicate human slavery.

Countless organizations at UT share this goal to end human slavery including: International Justice Mission Longhorn Chapter, Texas Students Against Sweatshops, A.C.T. (Against Cruel Trafficking), along with various community service and faith based organizations that are also involved in shining a light on slavery.  It’s incredibly easy to get involved in the greater Austin community as well through charities such as Allies Against Slavery, Restore A Voice, Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking, and Free Austin.

Longhorns and Austinites mark your calendars with the red X on February 27th, and this Thursday wear the red X on your hand.  Reply to everyone who asks.  Tell everyone you know that human slavery is a worldwide human rights crisis in dire need of attention.  Post it to every social media site with #Enditmovement.  Get your classmates involved, your organization involved, your work place involved.  Make the red X so visible that people can’t help but hear and learn about human slavery.

It doesn’t take an expert to see that human slavery is not only wrong but unbelievable, that it has survived and grown to this magnitude in this day and age where citizens of America believe themselves to be free.  But how can a nation or world be considered free when 27 million of its citizens are still slaves?  It may not end in a day, but it only takes a day for people to know.  Shine A Light On Slavery Day, February 27th for the 27 million voices who are yet to be heard.

Sources: enditmovement.com and polarisproject.com

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