Red Xs are taking social media by storm today to raise awareness for the End It Movement’s fifth annual “Shine a Light on Slavery” Day.
Advocates made the commemorative day to raise awareness for modern-day slavery and human trafficking. Accordingly, government officials and advocates have held numerous hearings and passed legislation about slavery and trafficking, including celebrity Ashton Kutcher. Just last week, he attended a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting about ending modern slavery. He explained he met Russian, Indian, Mexican, and even U.S. victims as part of his anti-trafficking work.
“I’ve been on FBI raids where I’ve seen things that no person should ever see,” He said. “I’ve seen video content of a child that’s the same age as mine being raped by an American man that was a sex tourist in Cambodia. And this child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play.”
The United Nations reported that criminals enslave more than 21 million people in more than 160 countries. Most victims are slaves. Traffickers sell 22 percent in the sex trade — 55 percent of the victims being women and girls — and 26 percent are children under 18. Although the U.S. does not have nearly as many victims as other countries, particularly India, there are still approximately 60,000 victims within its borders.
Free the Slaves defines slavery as people forced to work without pay, under violent threats, and unable to leave the situation. Currently, many victims work in farm fields, factories, mines, construction sites, restaurants, hotels, stores, brothels, and more. Additionally, the U.S. Department of labor found that perpetrators force these victims to make 139 products from 75 countries. The products include diamonds, tobacco, shoes, clothes, and food.
To help combat the $150 billion industry, Sen. Bob Corker introduced legislation on Feb. 24, 2015 to help eliminate the phenomena. It finally passed on Dec. 23, 2016 and legislatures included it in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017. Furthermore, the legislation creates funding for a non-profit foundation in Washington, D.C. that will fund anti-slavery programs and projects.
Corker explained how he saw the reality of modern slavery and demanded the U.S. make a commitment to end it.
“Despite the pervasive nature of this horrific practice, modern slavery is a crime of opportunity that thrives where enforcement is weak, so raising the risk of prosecution can achieve significant results,” he said. “By providing strong U.S. leadership and leveraging our limited foreign aid dollars, this initiative will work with foreign governments and philanthropic organizations to match the funding being provided by the United States and create a coordinated effort to implement best practices to eliminate modern slavery and human trafficking around the globe.”
Movement officials encourage people to download the End It Movement’s campaign resources. They also encourage advocating against trafficking by changing profile photos, wearing red lipstick, or wearing red Xs on hands. The official hashtags for the movement are #EndSlaveryAct and #EndItMovement.