On Saturday Katie and I attended the first (annual?) Abolition Conference in Tucson at the University of Arizona, focused on local and global efforts to fight human trafficking and slavery (learn more about the problem here). It was presented by some great local players in the fight against slavery: Streetlight Tucson, Southern Arizona Against Slavery, and the U of A Honors College, and several other organizations participated. In the main sessions, we heard from three unique perspectives:
- Kaign Christy with International Justice Mission spoke about the global scope of slavery and what IJM is doing to combat it, largely by strengthening local law enforcement in countries around the world.
- Bradley Myles, executive director and CEO of Polaris Project, told us a bit about his organization’s work, as well as a number of very practical resources and reasons for hope that the fight against slavery will be won.
- Linda Smith, former member of US Congress and founder of Shared Hope International, emphasized the story of one girl named Lacy, reminding us all that the victims of slavery are real people, not just statistics.
The conference was fairly well-attended and really well-organized, and it was encouraging to see so much energy around the anti-trafficking cause. It was also great that so many of the speakers focused on practical action steps, rather than just giving us information or making us feel terrible about things (which would be easy to do at an anti-trafficking conference).
Of all the great practical action steps, the single most important take-away was learning about the 24/7/365 toll-free hotline, provided by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. They are working on ramping up a nationwide network with information about law enforcement and social services in every city in the country so when someone calls with a tip or a request, they can be connected with those in a position to help in their own city. Here’s information on all the hotline is used for:
- To report a tip;
- To connect with anti-trafficking services in your area; or,
- To request training and technical assistance, general information or specific anti-trafficking resources.
The number is 1-888-3737-888. I added the hotline’s number to my phone book, and I hope you’ll do the same. Please help spread the word so that those who buy and sell human beings, at least here in the US, would find that they can no longer get away with it.
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:24)
[Photo credit: End Human Trafficking Now!]