Today, as we honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., I’m reminded of the centrality of freedom to the human experience: nations fighting for independence, racial and religious groups struggling for just treatment, and individuals persevering to overcome slavery.
Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day, a national moment to shine a light on modern day slavery.
The problem of human trafficking can feel overwhelming, and sometimes it can be confusing knowing how to help. We’ve been there too.
Here are three easy ways to learn more, take action and become an Ally in the movement to end human trafficking.
2017 was a monumental year. Thanks to advocates, supporters and partners like you, it was our most impactful year yet!
Our team curated seven highlights from the year to celebrate with you. From groundbreaking research to identifying victims, I’m deeply inspired by all the ways you’ve helped Allies advance freedom and protect dignity this year.
At a time when so much of our society is divided, 2017 has reinforced for me how dignity is universally central to the human experience. On a recent trip to the Middle East, I spent time speaking with migrants in a labor camp and was profoundly affected by the stark reality of their circumstance. They deserve freedom just as victims of trafficking in Texas do.
The Slave-Free City vision rests on the belief that everyone has a role to play in the fight for freedom. No one organization or sector of the community can overcome the issue of modern slavery alone.
Transforming Austin into a city where traffickers cannot exploit the vulnerable and where survivors have access to all the resources they need to truly heal requires everyone doing their part. That’s why we are encouraged when community members like ingredients think creatively to mobilize their business platform for social change.
“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be… This is the inter-related structure of reality.
— Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail
The complexity of human trafficking requires us to be creative in our approach to problem-solving. That’s why our team loves it when members of the community create innovative ways to engage their spheres of influence to raise awareness and offer solutions.
As part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month we’ve paired up with Kristen Alexandrov, founder of givetwig, to raise awareness about the issue. Givetwig had its debut launch last week and is designed to make giving part of members’ weekly routines through small, recurring weekly gifts. Allies is excited to be part of this week’s conversation!
This year I have provided support for over 50 survivors of sex trafficking with my team at Allies Against Slavery. Through referrals, mentoring, writing workshops, career coaching and our annual Survivor Leader Retreat, I have witnessed the fierce resilience and courage of the women and girls we serve.
I recently had the opportunity to speak at the Grammy Awards. A few weeks after this, I called into a recovery group for survivors of domestic minor sex-trafficking in Miami. The girls asked me questions about about my own recovery. One teen girl shared, “I really related to your speech.”
“What part resonated with you the most?” I asked.
What is your favorite thing to wear? What makeup product do you find yourself repurchasing over and over? What coffee is your go-to morning pick me up? Have you ever thought about where all of your favorites come from and the process involved in creating them? Jordan Ring had her purchasing practices turned upside when her eyes were opened to the world of human and labor trafficking and how she (and probably you) was unknowingly supporting these atrocities. Today she shares practical ways we can all start to rethink our role in the fight against modern slavery . . . and it could start with a purse!
2015 was a breakout year for Allies! Together with supporters and partners like you, we’ve achieved significant milestones and made important advances in the Slave-Free City movement.
Modern slavery is one of the most complex, challenging problems we face today. Yet as Nelson Mandela said, “[Slavery] is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”
After several months of preparation and collaboration with Allies Against Slavery, Council Member Ellen Troxclair sponsored a resolution this week addressing human trafficking in Austin.
The resolution, introduced as the “Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative”, recognizes the important work currently being done by local organizations and signifies a continued public commitment by the City of Austin to be a national leader in the movement to end human trafficking.
Last month, I hosted a Survivor Leader retreat with the Survivor Support Team at Allies Against Slavery. We welcomed ten survivors of human trafficking to an inspiring weekend of creative expression and healing community. Through writing, art, discussions and workshops we explored three primary themes: reclaiming our self-worth, cultivating healthy intimacy and honoring our voices. We also discussed the relationship between living with self-compassion and making a sustainable contribution to the movement to end human trafficking. Each woman shared her gifts, passions, strengths and struggles within this sacred space. It was an honor to bear witness to their healing path. I call them Beautiful Warriors because they are radiant with love and fierce with courage.
In April, 2015, a trial was held in San Marcos, Texas. The defendant was indicted on the charges of sex trafficking of a minor and three different counts of sexual assault.* Both he and the girl he violated were from Kyle, a community in the county just south of Austin. I was a juror on that three-week-long trial.
Most children trafficked for sex in the U.S. are not receiving the care they need to heal from their abuse. Due to the violence, control and demeaning messages of their abusers, many sexually exploited children are vulnerable to believing the lies they have been told about who they are and what is possible for them. They feel trapped, worthless and alone.
We are always looking for ways to build bridges between sectors. We believe we do our best work when we work together. That’s why our team was excited when Bracelets reached out to Allies to create a new partnership.
Bracelets is a for-profit company with giving at its core. Bracelets™ bracelets are more than just something to wear on your wrist. They are a symbol of hope, strength and courage.
Bracelets is donating $10 of every purchase made to Allies when you shop through the Allies’ profile here: https://giveback.bravelets.com/bravepage/allies-against-slavery. Each Bracelet you purchase advances our mission to build a #SlaveFreeCity!
In order to truly commit to ending human trafficking, I first had to admit my own complicity in modern slavery.
“The answers to those questions can be haunting. We live in a world where human beings are reduced to objects and exploited for another person’s gain.
In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I had failed to ask myself, “What’s the story behind my everyday purchases?” Did the person who made my shirt make a fair wage while working in a safe environment? How much did my cup of coffee really cost? Did it cost only $3.50 or did it cost someone their dignity and freedom?