Shine a Light on Slavery Day

When most people hear the word slavery, they think of forced labor for African Americans in the South and the abolition of such practices by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, but what would you think if I told you that there are an estimated twenty-million people in the world right now who are trapped in slavery? Thursday, Feb. 23 is Shine a Light on Slavery Day, and people who participate in raising awareness will wear a red ‘X’ on the back of their hands. This red ‘X’ is the logo for the End It Movement, a non-profit organization whose mission is to raise awareness and put an end to the modern-day slavery that takes place in 167 countries throughout the world.

This slavery issue comes in many different forms, three being bonded labor, forced labor, and human trafficking. Bonded labor is one of the most commonly practiced types of slavery where a single person or even an entire family will become servants to pay off their debt. These victims live in fear to follow their master and must serve as domestic workers or even sex slaves. Forced labor similarly forces people into work or services, but they are under the threat of an extreme punishment. This is commonly enforced by private individuals, but in some cases, even a nation’s military is held responsible for forced labor. Another very common form of slavery is human trafficking where people are taken away from their communities, maybe even to a new country, and will most likely spend the remainder of their lives being forced into physical labor or as sex slaves. This form of slavery is the second most frequent international criminal industry practiced in the world today, and it is still growing with approximately 70,000 trafficking cases each year.

The goal of the End It Movement is to put an end to all forms of modern-day slavery throughout the world, but they know this cannot be accomplished without raising awareness for the issue first. Many famous figures have taken a stand with the red ‘X’ to show their support for the movement such as Carrie Underwood, Peyton Manning, and Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher specifically has been a key ambassador in the fight and has lately got a lot of press for his actions. Kutcher testified before a US senate committee recently ago saying, “When people are left out, when they’re neglected, when they’re not supported, and when they’re not given the love they need to grow, it becomes an incubator for trafficking, and this refugee crisis, if we want to be serious about ending slavery, we cannot ignore them, we cannot ignore our support for this issue in that space, because otherwise, we’re going to have to deal with it for years to come.” Kutcher has used his acting platform as a helpful tool to raise awareness for this issue, and it is evident through his actions and his words that he is very passionate about the topic.

While Kutcher has had a huge impact on this issue because of his many claims to fame, you don’t have to be famous to make a difference for this very important problem throughout the world. Apex’s very own science teacher Mr. Gurkin is helping to raise awareness towards the end of modern day slavery simply by letting his fellow faculty know about Shine a Light on Slavery day. So many people are unaware of these inhumane practices that happen all too often throughout the world, and Gurkin supported this by saying, “We are here in arguably the freest country in the world and sit almost blind to what is going on around us. Interstate 95 is a major route for human traffickers and it runs right through our state. We cannot continue to sit idly by and ignore what is happening in our community, state, country, and world.”

​Although this Thursday is dedicated to shining a light on slavery, we should be raising awareness for this global issue every chance we get. If you would like to help raise awareness, today wear two red ‘X’s on the back of your hands. I speak from personal experience that many people ask about the symbol and will want to wear the ‘X’ across their hands as well. Even though it seems like you can’t do anything to save the twenty-million people that are currently enslaved, one person wanted to End It, and they created a Movement.

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