Thursday, February 22, 2018

My Fight Against Slavery Continues

It's that time of year when I join END IT Movement and people across the country to help raise awareness on modern day slavery. 

I know that drawing a red X will not eradicate the practice that has generated $150 billion for perpetrators who traffic human beings into various forms of slavery. I wish I could say that the number has decreased from the time I made a vow 10 years ago to fight against human trafficking but unfortunately it has not. 

In the years since I've joined END IT Movement during their annual Shine A Light On Slavery Day I've noticed the increase of awareness. Social media is the vehicle that has driven the cause to the forefront of social justice issues. 

Modern day slavery is not just sex trafficking but encompasses a slew of forms such as domestic servitude, child labor, forced labor, bonded labor and forced marriage. It's not only a global issue but one that is pervasive in our cities and neighborhoods. 

The global slavery facts from Free The Slaves show the following alarming statistics: 

In 2007 I attended a banquet for a non-profit organization that my friend created called, My Refuge House. It was during the video presentation when I viewed images of young girls forced to work in a brothel against their will that the seed of the abolitionist was planted in my heart. I haven't looked back since. 

When I traveled to the Philippines to visit the girls living in My Refuge House (MRH) in 2009 my life was changed forever. Since then I've donated my photography services, my time and my finances to MRH, International Justice Mission (IJM), Love146 and END IT Movement. Not a day goes by that I don't stay up-to-date on the latest news surrounding human trafficking and slavery. 

To be honest there are days when the heaviness of the issue threatens to overwhelm me with defeat. The stories I read or listen to don't leave me numb but break my heart daily. Then I see a post like the one from My Refuge House below that reminds me hope will always pierce the darkness. 

Just a couple of days ago, an Australian man and his Filipina partner in the Philippines were sentenced to life imprisonment for human trafficking and child pornography charges. During their arrest in April 2013 "a total of 15 girls, all minors were rescued during the operation." One of the 15 girls, Maggie, is living in My Refuge House and has seen justice served. She knows she matters. 

It's these stories of victory that fuel my fight and keep me going knowing what little I do with what I have can help a girl like Maggie or help others fighting for the same cause. If you're reading this and you're interested in joining the cause, please click on any of the resources below.