Today is January 11, 2011, Human Trafficking Awareness Day, unfortunately.  The 13th Amendment was signed by President Lincoln on February 1, 1865, unfortunately some 100+ years has been insufficient to remove slavery from the United States.  So we who live in the year 2011 have to have a day to remind us that we have more of our fellow-man enslaved today, January 11, 2011 than in any time in the recorded history of man. I can imagine you’re shaking your head and saying, “How can this possibly be?” You are not alone.  We all need to be asking ourselves this question.  How can we allow this to be, let alone continue.    

So let me share some reality.   Human Trafficking is occurring today in all of the United States, yes all 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia are experiencing the scourge of human trafficking.  I urge you to do your own research.  Start with your State Attorney General’s office.  You’ll be surprised at the level of slavery which exists in the United States, which exists in your state.  You might want to read my piece, Human Trafficking, Children as a Commodity.   It was written in 2009, but remains a good basic primer on the situation with respect to trafficking of children in the United States and identifies some good, hardworking organizations which could use your assistance.  

Prior to and concurrent with the Super Bowl, if you are paying attention you will see a migration of pimps and their charges, some voluntary, most not, into the metropolitan area surrounding Arlington, Texas.  To counter this migration of those who traffic in and exploit our youth, a collection of organizations are holding meetings and creating general awareness in the same metro area.  These include the Texas Anti-Trafficking in Persons organization, Shared Hope International, New Friends New Life, and Traffick911, all with the singular goal of keeping our youth safe and making it more difficult for the criminal element to operate within the fringes of the Super Bowl.  You see, the state of Texas has been making significant strides in addressing the trafficking of children within Texas ( see my study of December 2009, Humantrafficking: Children and Texas (Sextrafficking) .   If you’re at the Super Bowl this year and see a child soliciting sex, please don’t turn your head,  call 911 or National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1.888.373.7888  so that this child can be rescued.  You see, the average life expectancy of a child forced into sexual slavery is just seven years.  These children are NOT criminals, they are victims they need our help.  Perhaps collectively we can help make February 6 and the days leading up to them safe for all concerned.  

I am heartened that our country’s leadership, President Barak Obama declared January 2011, National Slavery and  Human Trafficking Prevention Month.  Take  a moment and read it.   The President touches on all of the issues at hand and notes how we in the United States (let alone any other nation) are not immune from the presence of slavery.  His call to action needs to be heard by the citizens of the United States.  Here is his proclamation:  

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release   December 22, 2010
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Our Nation was founded on the enduring principles of equality and freedom for all. As Americans, it is our solemn responsibility to honor and uphold this legacy. Yet, around the world and even within the United States, victims of modern slavery are deprived of the most basic right of freedom. During
National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we rededicate ourselves to preventing and ending human trafficking, and we recognize all who continue to fight this serious human rights violation.  

Human trafficking is a global travesty that takes many forms. Whether forced labor or sexual trafficking, child soldiering or involuntary domestic servitude, these abuses are an affront to our national conscience, and to our values as Americans and human beings. There is no one type of victim – men and women, adults and children are all vulnerable. From every corner of our Nation to every part of the globe, we must stand firm in defense of freedom and bear witness for those exploited by modern slavery.  

At the start of each year, Americans commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation, which became effective on January 1, 1863, and the 13th Amendment, which was signed by President Abraham Lincoln and sent to the States for ratification on February 1, 1865. These seminal documents secured the promise
of freedom for millions enslaved within our borders, and brought us closer to perfecting our Union. We also recall that, over 10 years ago, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 renewed America’s commitment to combating modern slavery domestically and internationally. With this law,
America reaffirmed the fundamental promise of “forever free” enshrined within the Emancipation Proclamation.  

We cannot strengthen global efforts to end modern slavery without first accepting the responsibility to prevent, identify, and aggressively combat this crime at home. No country can claim immunity from the scourge of human rights abuses, or from the responsibility to confront them. As evidence of our dedication to a universal struggle against this heinous practice, the Department of State’s “Trafficking in Persons Report 2010″ included America in its rankings for the first time, measuring our efforts by the same standards to which we hold other nations. Looking ahead, we must continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases within our own borders.  

Although the United States has made great strides in preventing the occurrence of modern slavery, prosecuting traffickers and dismantling their criminal networks, and protecting victims and survivors, our work is not done. We stand with those throughout the world who are working every day to end modern slavery, bring traffickers to justice, and empower survivors to reclaim their rightful freedom. This month, I urge all Americans to educate themselves about all forms of modern slavery and the signs and consequences of human trafficking. Together, we can combat this crime within our borders and join with our partners around the world to end this injustice.  

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2011 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1. I call upon the people of the United States to recognize the vital role we can play in ending modern slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.  

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.  


Film and Books which discuss Human Trafficking in the United States and beyond:

Human TraffickingThe Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade--and How We Can Fight It Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery