God is good, and one day I won't be a [slave] anymore.
-Bill Nathan, Haitian child slave at age 8 -- after a beating -- to his owner, as shared by Ben Skinner in A Crime So Monstrous
There are more people living enslaved on our planet today than ever before. 27 million men, women and children. In the United States of America, where we pledge liberty and justice for all, and 160 other countries.
To clarify, that number is not based on a loose definition of slavery. But rather of one human completely controlling another human person through violence or threat of violence, with no pay and no ability to leave. Usually for forced labor or forced sex.
In the time since you started reading this, another sweet little innocent child has been sold into that definition of slavery. For as little as 50 U.S. dollars.
What will her life be like? What will she be used for?
I try to imagine what it would feel like to be a slave. I try to imagine the depth of evil, or cultural complacency, it would take to enslave and use a fellow human in such a grisly manner. But I can't handle it for very long and always come up short.
The snippets of modern-day slave stories I've been able to stomach lead me to believe her experience will most likely be horrifically gruesome, to say the least. I can't bring myself to type it.
If you were not aware of Earth's persisting slavery epidemic, this is not news meant to overwhelm you. Though you may be feeling overwhelmed. And I actually tried to keep the shock-factor as minimal as one possibly can when dealing with a topic as horrendous as human trafficking and slavery.
Because I want to focus on the flip-side to the modern-day slavery story. It is a story of hope. Well-founded hope.
Said another way, the percentage of people living enslaved on our planet today is smaller than at any other time in history. Yes, there are more slaves in number, but it is also true that there are more of us free and capable of freeing them than ever before. Some who are better informed on this issue than I am say we can free every last one of them in one generation. And completely prevent the bondage of future generations.
Free people are rising up -- in groups and individually -- and doing the work to free others. Entire organizations are devoted to the effort. And they are making a difference.
Bill Nathan's words proved prophetic. He was freed and now works to free others through a boys' orphanage in Haiti. All 27 million brothers and sisters in bondage can say those same words. It is true for each of them.
One day no one will be bought or sold, chained or beaten.
One day all children will keep their childhoods and their innocence.
One day every little girl will be cherished, every woman valued for her full worth, every boy nourished, every man respected.
One day there will not be any slaves any more.
The only question is, what part will you play in realizing that day?
This post is in honor of Shine a Light on Slavery Day.
I am so thankful to say that there are far more organizations, people and efforts to end slavery and human trafficking than could ever be included in a blog post. To learn simple (or not-as-simple) ways that you can get involved, visit www.enditmovement.com . They provide a lot of helpful information and links to some (but not all) organizations working to free people.
If you would like a peek into the reality of modern-day slavery, the END IT Movement website also contains a list of informative books. A quick internet search will yield plenty of reading material. Be warned, it's worse than you think.
Statistics and information used in this post were taken from the END IT Movement campaign, the CNN Freedom Project, and the writing of slave-advocates Kevin Bales and Ben Skinner.