January 11 is National Human Trafficking day and Virginia has become commonplace for this global crime. The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2018 recently passed by Congress was signed on January 8 by President Trump. This action allocates $430 million through 2022 to prevent and respond to human trafficking in the U.S. and abroad.
Human trafficking is an international problem that has found a landing-place in neighborhoods many would least expect. 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.
Human trafficking recently made national headlines again after one of its victims, Cyntoia Brown was granted clemency by the Tennessee Governor’s office. She was a trafficking victim the world knew about, yet refused to acknowledge the possibility of innocence. Hence, Brown was tried as an adult and served 15 years for killing a man who bought her for sex when she was 15-years-old. After years of declaring her innocence, social media has helped bring additional attention to her case. On August 7, 2019, the victim is scheduled to be released from prison.
This is a huge issue, not just globally, but right here in our community. Awareness needs to be heightened in order to bring people together and train them so they can recognize what could be happening right in their neighborhood.
In 2007, Christine and Nick Caine founded the A21 Campaign with a mission to make a difference while fighting 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. The A21 Walk seeks to bring awareness to this modern-day slavery in hopes of seeing countless men and women freed from slavery.
The illegal trade of human beings, mainly for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation is a global problem. As the world’s fastest growing criminal industry, it affects every nation across the globe. Every 30 seconds, someone becomes a victim of modern-day slavery, with an estimated 27 million in bondage worldwide. Men, women, and children are being exploited for manual and sexual labor against their will.
Virginia is one of the most aggressive states when it comes to prosecuting this offense according to a new report by the Human Trafficking Institute. The state ranks sixth in active federal human trafficking cases and overall 15th in the United States for human trafficking, due to easy access to interstates and other transport.
On Oct. 20, 2018, an impactful A21 Walk for Freedom & Awareness of Human Trafficking took place in Norfolk, Va where the largest Naval Base in the world is located. The Coastal VA 2018 Walk had over 175 participants show up in our local community to rally and make a declarative statement, “human trafficking must stop!” In silence, the A21 Coastal Va. Walk for Freedom joined forces with over 30,000 participants, collectively taking millions of steps for freedom with more than 460 walks equating to a walk every five minutes over 24 hours.
These walks took place in local communities within 24 hours around the world for a massive global impact of tens of thousands marching in silence with signs highlighting this heinous industry and raising facts about this egregious reality. Some facts presented during the walk were human trafficking generates $150 Billion USD annually, or that there are more slaves today than at any other point in human history. However, amidst the discouraging truths, there was hope – because a great number from within our community were saying, enough is enough.
It takes a community to bring about the change necessary to rescue these victims. Anyone interested in participating in the fight to end human trafficking and the A21 Walk for Freedom in Coastal Va. for 2019, “Save the Date” is Oct. 19, 2019. Check out our social media links or email [email protected] for more information.
Although trafficking is illegal in every country, it explodes where the laws are not enforced. Together is better. We believe that human trafficking will be eradicated and freedom will prevail. The National Human Trafficking Hotline is open 24 hours, seven days a week by calling 1 (888) 373-7888 or via text at 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”).
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
WTKR: January 11th is national human trafficking awareness day
Human Trafficking Institute: Decimate Trafficking
Catholic Standard: Trump signs law to pump $430 million into anti-human trafficking efforts
Sisters: Press Release
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