United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons –
On July 30, 2014 – the world commemorated its first ever United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons. This day is an important way to unite all world citizens in the fight against global trafficking in persons. It is a day to encourage education in our communities about the impact of this heinous crime on victims, their families, and communities. It is a day to remind all world citizens that slavery has never ended, and is actually a multi-billion dollar business worldwide today. There is so much information out there about trafficking in persons, but here are few components that I will briefly mention.
What exactly is human trafficking? Under international law, the United Nations has defined human trafficking to be:
“The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, or fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or the removal of organs.”
How many people are estimated to be trafficked each year and held as modern day slaves? According to the non-governmental organization the International Justice Mission, there are as many as 30 million worldwide. 
Who are most likely to be trafficked and why? Men, women and children are in danger of being trafficked for reasons such as sexual and labor exploitation around the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Human trafficking occurs in many nations and across borders. Human trafficking impacts developed and developing nations in every part of the globe. Extreme poverty, poor infrastructure, war and conflict, attitudes and cultural norms about women and girls, environmental issues and global demand for natural resources are just some of the reasons that human traffickers are able to thrive in many parts of the world.
What YOU can do to make a difference. Have you ever watched the news or a documentary about a global issue and thought to yourself that the issue was so large that your input would not be big enough? I often have. However I have learned that my voice matters a great deal and your voice also matters. If we make the commitment to bring our voices together our impact will be very meaningful. So, I encourage you to join me in the fight against global trafficking in persons. Here are my thoughts on ways you can get involved:
Educate yourself ----- it is vital for you to understand what human trafficking is and the people impacted by this crime. Here are a few links you can visit to learn more:
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) – here you can learn more about trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling – this entity of the U.N. is the criminal justice component of combating trafficking in persons. It is a great place to learn about the U.N. action plan through the use of criminal justice systems. It is also a great site to learn more about the UN definition of trafficking in persons. http://www.unodc.org/unodc/human-trafficking/
United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund – (administered by the UNODC) this fund supports humanitarian relief, legal and financial aid to victims of trafficking. http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking-fund.html
United States Department of State 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report – here you can read the latest developments on Trafficking in Persons and a summary, as well as facts and figures for each country. Also, on this website you can access the State Department’s previous reports back to 2001. http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/
For a partial list of international non-governmental organizations working to combat trafficking in persons – this is a great start on learning about different organizations in the field and how these organizations contribute to ending trafficking in persons. http://www.humantrafficking.org/countries/united_states_of_america/international_orgs
For local information: Many states in the U.S. have coalitions working against trafficking in persons. Not only will you learn about this issue from a local perspective, you may also have an option to volunteer or attend community events dedicated to this issue. For example, in Michigan there is the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force. http://www.humantrafficking.msu.edu/ There is also the Illinois Rescue and Restore website at http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=31332 A Google search for coalitions against human trafficking for your particular state should get you good results.
Write to your elected officials –
This is a great way for you to express your concern to your elected officials about victims of human trafficking and to advocate for funding and resources to be used to assist and protect victims. To find out how to contact your leaders in Congress go to http://www.senate.gov/ for your Senators and http://www.house.gov/ for your Representatives
You may also be interested in contacting your state elected officials as well.
Volunteer your time or donate money to an organization that is working to combat human trafficking
Spread the word – take time to tell your family, friends and colleagues about human trafficking and its devastating impacts.
Add more suggestions to this list – there is so much that we can do as world citizens to contribute to the global fight against human trafficking – if you have any ideas please add to this list and share how you are involved in the fight.
Always remember that your voice matters!
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on Trafficking in Persons. I am always excited to hear from others – please comment or send me an email if you have any thoughts or questions.
 United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. (Known as the Palermo Protocol) January 23, 2002. (For further reading you can access the full Palermo Protocol here: http://www.uncjin.org/Documents/Conventions/dcatoc/final_documents_2/convention_%20traff_eng.pdf
 International Justice Mission – www.ijm.org