See Why People in 28 Countries Rallied to End Modern Slavery
Some covered their mouths with tape, others huddled under umbrellas, and some linked hands as thousands of people across the globe participated in a silent march to raise awareness about human trafficking.
Saturday marked A21’s second annual Walk for Freedom. An international nonprofit, A21 works to protect victims, prosecute perpetrators, and prevent human trafficking from happening in the first place.
Someone becomes a victim of human trafficking every 30 seconds, according to A21. Roughly 27 million people, many women and girls, are enslaved across the globe. Sexual exploitation is the most common form of human trafficking, followed by forced labor, according to the United Nations.
Hundreds of cities across 28 different countries are participating in the organization’s awareness event, highlighting the fact that modern day slavery is a global issue.
It Can Happen Anywhere
A common misconception about human trafficking is that it only takes place in developing countries far away from the U.S. But homeless and runaway youths are particularly vulnerable. More than 80 percent of sex trafficking victims in the U.S. between 2008 and 2010 were U.S. citizens.
The Business Is Growing
Denmark has seen an uptick in human trafficking, with a 32 percent rise in reports from 2013 to 2014. But the Nordic country is not unique. Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, raking in $150 billion in profits annually.
The average age of a trafficking victim is just 12 years old. A21 hopes that with help from young kids like these in Sydney, it can eliminate human trafficking for coming generations.
Not Everything Is as It Seems
Women advertise themselves to passersby in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, well known for legal prostitution. But last year’s provocative campaign from Stop the Trafficking proved that just because prostitution is legal doesn’t mean some of the women aren’t victims. A video projected across the district warned that thousands of women are promised dance careers in Europe but find themselves forced into sex work instead.
Learning How to Help
Although trafficking is on the rise, many health professionals are not equipped to help victims. Almost 80 percent of U.K. health care workers said they do not know how to assist victims of trafficking, according to an August report.
Change Is Possible
A young girl in South Africa was rescued from two years of forced domestic work on Friday, according to A21. Although A21 estimates that 99 percent of trafficking victims will never be rescued, survivor stories like this one remind those marching of what they’re fighting for.