Eradicating Slavery as 21st Century Abolitionists
I remember the first time I heard the term “Modern Day Slavery.” It struck a deep chord with me because I honestly did not realize the extent to which slavery still exists today. Perhaps you are still learning the gravity of how human trafficking is impacting our communities all over the world, and it feels overwhelming. As I dig deeper, the statistics can appear daunting.
It’s reported that more than 46 million people are enslaved today through forced labor or sexual exploitation. Slavery is a thriving $150 billion industry and continues to grow. What’s worse? Only 1% percent of victims are ever rescued.
However, Dressember partners with organizations each year committed to fighting human trafficking and bringing perpetrators to justice. One of those partners is A21, a non-profit organization committed to being abolitionists of the 21st century. Their mission is clear: to eradicate slavery and disrupt demand.
Each year, funds brought in through Dressember create grants that go to partners such as A21. Together, we are creating large anti-trafficking grants that A21 uses to rescue and restore victims of this crime. In the last two years, Dressember has been able to give over $500,000 in grants toward A21’s mission.
In 2008, A21 was founded by activists, Christine and Nick Caine, to address the problem of modern-day slavery. In the past I had looked at the issue of trafficking in terms of statistics. However, A21 uses their influence to highlight the human element. Each number represents a person – a victim with a story waiting and hoping to be rescued. You don’t have to look far to see the passion behind A21 and how they make the issue of slavery personal. They speak to the heart of their organization on their website, saying “We see the one, and we fight for the one, and we sacrifice to restore the one.”
A21’s operational strategy is simple: Reach, Rescue and Restore lives. With 12 locations in 11 countries around the world, A21 uses a mix of teams and volunteers to execute their strategy. Seven of A21’s locations focus on active victim intervention, while the others provide restorative aftercare to address the needs of those rescued. To effectively reach victims and disrupt demand, A21 uses a dynamic education program where events, presentations, and resources are used to engage audiences all over the world. Through education that seeks to highlight the impact of human trafficking, A21 works to prevent slavery from ever happening in the first place.
It doesn’t stop there. A21 is directly addressing the millions that are waiting for help by educating law enforcement, government organizations, hospital staff, transportation authorities and first responders on the various ways to identify human trafficking at the source. Additionally, A21 also closely partners with law enforcement to help seek justice in court for victims of slavery.
One area that I love about A21’s impact is how they use their resources and grants to restore victims of slavery. Every person rescued is cared for individually through A21’s aftercare program, where medical treatment, counseling, and employment are all addressed. The goal through their restoration program is to bring independence back to victims through stable employment, an education and a focus on healing.
What struck me about A21’s mission, is the focus they place on invigorating the 21st century to take a stand with them to fight trafficking. Their mission is most effectively accomplished when everyone is committed to learning about the issue and spreading the word. In addition to the Dressember campaign, there are many other ways we can support A21. From volunteer work to advocacy, A21 offers several tangible paths on how to get involved. In fact, A21 has an opportunity that Dressember advocates can take part in over the next couple weeks!
On October 14th, 2017, A21 is holding their annual Walk For Freedom event where thousands of people all over the world will be marching together to raise awareness about human trafficking. There are locations literally across our globe, and A21 lists all of them here. Although there is an opportunity to fundraise leading up to the event, the biggest way A21 is encouraging participation is simply through education and raising awareness on how to eradicate slavery.
The issue of human trafficking is vast, but together we are more powerful than slavery. Through organizations like A21, we can fight for the faces behind the numbers as modern-day abolitionists.
Interested in joining the Walk for Freedom in your area? Watch the video below for details of how you can get involved.
About the Author
Michaela Judge is a military veteran and Southern transplant. As a Public Relations specialist by day, she is overjoyed to use her love of writing to help fight for freedom and justice through Dressember! Her favorite moments are spent with her husband, Phil, and daughter, Ellie, adventuring in Charleston, South Carolina, and spreading hospitality .