Americans fought slavery more than 150 years ago, but now, unfortunately, we still are experiencing slavery in a brutal manner in the United States. Thousands of American women, children and even men are being enslaved in prostitution and forced labor by threats, torture, fraud, fear and coercion.
Little is being done about it. Locally, the Rev. Angela Galanis Price and Carol Hawkins of the Antelope Valley United Methodist Social Justice Team recently went to Washington to support and lobby for the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015, to reduce the prevalence of slavery by 50% around the world. Currently the bipartisan bill has passed the House of Representatives, but it has yet to be voted on by the Senate.
Formed almost three years ago, members of the social justice team have been actively educating the AV community about what can be done to stop human trafficking by speaking and partnering with city officials, law enforcement, social service agencies, schools and nonprofits.
According to state law, they are placing "Stop Human Trafficking" posters in locations that might be frequented by trafficking victims: namely, hospital emergency rooms, urgent cares, doctor offices, Metrolink stations, bars, etc. These posters contain information on who might be living in dangerous conditions as trafficking victims.
As concerned citizens, this team and other AV organizations are continuing efforts to combat human trafficking, and they are endeavoring to make important political connections to fight this practice.
Internationally, nearly 36 million people are currently enslaved, according to the 2014 Global Slavery Index, more than during 400 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The International Labor Organization estimates that the crime - including both labor and sexual exploitation - generates $150 billion in profits for perpetrators. U.S. and global funding to combat the crime has not kept pace with the need. The EMSI Act would seek to generate $1.5 billion in global donations from public and private sources over seven years.
Much needs to be done to reduce and eradicate human exploitation of this kind. Children are especially vulnerable as "pimps call schools fish bowls of potential victims." So let's learn as much as we can to recognize and then help to escape this horrible life.
(For details of the national campaign, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 888-373-7888.)
Katie Corbett, Palmdale