On September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln issued the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, forever altering the course of American history. One hundred and fifty years later, we should remember that day with pride, and we should applaud all of the anti-slavery and anti-discrimination work that has come since then. America should not, however, simply pat itself on the back and think of slavery as an unfortunate happening in a bygone era. We cannot afford to slip into complacency, not only because the vestiges of slavery and racial inequality still haunt nearly every sector of our society, but also because actual, physical slavery is still very much alive in the United States. That is why LIRS is partnering with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to launch the End Human Trafficking Now Campaign. We hope that, with your help, we can begin to bring about the end of this heinous crime through education and advocacy efforts.
Human trafficking, modern-day slavery, is defined as forced labor without compensation. Increasingly, it includes forced participation in the sex trade, though 78 percent of trafficking victims worldwide are victims of labor trafficking, forced to work 15 hours a day or more in grueling conditions without pay. Every year, between 14,500 and 17,500 human beings are trafficked into the United States through many different methods of coercion. Sometimes they are abducted, sometimes they are sold, sometimes they are manipulated into coming to the United States with fanciful lies about a better life. Once in the United States, however, they are all brutally taken advantage of and treated as nothing more than property.
LIRS confronts the evils of human trafficking in many different ways. Through our network of local organizations, we provide vital social services, foster care, and immigration assistance, i.e., access to T-visas for victims of human trafficking. We also advocate for the rights or trafficking victims in Washington, D.C. and beyond. We continue to see gaps in anti-trafficking legislation, and we invite you to join us in our advocacy efforts. Use our educational materials, including our e-learning module, to raise awareness in your community, and keep checking our website for more ways to get involved this winter!
As we remember the Emancipation Proclamation, we also must look towards the future. The fight against human trafficking is far from over, and we need everyone to work together to raise awareness and instigate change. Please join us in our mission to End Human Trafficking Now!