Slavery is a dirty word that tends to be relegated to history books, but the A21 Campaign’s Freedom Walk day aims to raise awareness of the modern problem and inspire more people to get involved in the fight against human trafficking. The surreptitious nature of the trafficking operation makes it difficult for governments to collect accurate statistics and fuels a mindset of official denial of the issue, according to a 2009 United Nations report, A Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. The report agrees with A21’s call for greater involvement on all levels in order to escalate the efforts to end the slavery of human trafficking. The upcoming Freedom Walk provides an opportunity for anyone, regardless of personal resources, to come together in unity and take a public stand to end the bondage of thousands of children and adults around the world.
The A21 Campaign was founded in 2007 by Christine and Nick Caine to make a difference and fight for justice on behalf of those hurt by the exploitation of the sex trade and forced labor to which victims of human trafficking fall prey. Christine is a popular speaker at women’s events worldwide and Nick directs and pastors Equip and Empower Ministries where they advocate for faith in action to set the enslaved free by “being the hands and feet of Jesus” to help the oppressed walk to freedom. The Hillsong worldwide network of churches joins their voice to the Caines in refusing to do nothing and allow evil to triumph, in the words of Edmund Burke, and advocates for others to work to abolish this modern day slavery in the 21st century. Their organization works to comprehensively to prevent the vulnerable from becoming victims, protecting the victims escaping the slavery and prosecuting the perpetrators.
Reports of the exact number of human trafficking cases worldwide vary greatly due to the difficulty of identifying victims who are kept in the shadows and cannot speak up and defend themselves. Estimated statistics range from a few million to 27 million. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports that sexual exploitation makes up 79 percent of the cases of human trafficking with a rough estimate of 18 percent being forced labor under abysmal conditions, although it is more difficult to detect the latter as it is less frequently reported. Children are prime targets for trafficking making up 20 percent of the victims overall, albeit in some areas of the globe, virtually all cases involve children. Mrs. Caine points out that the percentage of convictions of traffickers is minuscule and less than two percent of the victims ever get rescued.
The A21 Campaign recognizes that not everyone can physically carry out an actual rescue of human trafficking victims. However, on Oct. 18, 2014, they are sponsoring Freedom Walks around the world to draw people together in the fight for liberty and justice for the exploited. Anyone, of any age, location or career can join a walk in their local area as a way to stand up and be counted as a voice for those who have none. Information about hosting a Freedom Walk event is available on the A21 website. By banding together, they hope to raise the visibility of the problem, fight apathy and denial and raise money to fund the ongoing efforts to abolish modern day slavery.
UNODC’s Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, urges national governments, businesses and private citizens to join the fight against human trafficking by educating susceptible populations to reduce their risk, raising the conviction rate to hold traffickers accountable for their actions and provide a deterrent to modern traffickers. He explains that by working together, citizens can lessen the demand for the modern-day slaves’ services and take a step closer to freedom for the victims. The upcoming Freedom Walk events are a chance to take up his challenge by joining The A21 Campaign in its mission to fight for justice and in the spirit of Margaret Mead, be part of a small group of world changers who take a bold stand to see this modern day slavery eradicated.
by Tamara Christine Van Hooser
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