The importance of awareness and creating understanding.
It is easy to pretend that after the abolishing of the old stereotypical transatlantic slave trade, slavery no longer exists. Unfortunately that could not be further from the truth, approximately 40,3 million men, women and children are enslaved right now, today.
This “new” modern slavery has been growing during the last couple of decades and keeps on doing so as the demand doesn’t seem to have a limit. Human trafficking, sex trafficking, forced labour, debt slavery and forced marriage are just some examples of modern slavery which challenges the preconceived notions about what slavery really is. To fight human trafficking and modern slavery we first need to fight the prejudice and fear to create a deeper understandning about the problem in order to realize what we can and must do.
Awareness is vital in the effort to eliminate human trafficking, the more people aware about the problem the more people there is to protest and hold their governments accountable to make sure preventional efforts are being made. But awareness without understanding can also backfire. Misinformation and misunderstanding regarding human trafficking and modern slavery spread through wellmeaning campaigns, media and word of mouth can lead to a distortion of what slavery is these days. Trafficking is still largely associated with people smuggling and prostitution, but this ignores the fact that often the victims are coerced and tricked into consenting volountarily to travel across borders in pursuit of a better life where they later find themself trapped and exploited.
By creating a deeper understanding about what a modern day slave really is, that they are not locked away in a dark room but hidden in plain sight, as a hair-dresser, nail technician or a waitress at your favorite restaurant, you also train educated whistleblowers ready to recognize the signs and to act upon them. Through workshops and lectures performed for upper elementary school children, awareness and understanding can be created at the most sensitive part in a young adult's life, right before they become adults and begin making their own decisions. By informing them how modern slavery is all around us and how their decisions inevitably has an effect on the world around them, you not only create vigiliantes keeping a watchfull eye on perpetrators and possible victims but also responsible adults making decisions that might hopefully lessen the unseen demand for modern-day slaves.
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