Modern-day slavery is big business, generating some $35 billion in revenue for those who enslave their fellow human beings. The international community is making progress in the fight against modern-day slavery, but much more remains to be done. For example, about 46,000 victims were identified last year, and while 46,000 individuals is an astounding number, it is only a drop in the ocean of the 27 million or so individuals who are currently enslaved across the globe, impacting nearly every country and every culture.
Slavery tears at our social fabric, fuels violence and organized crime, and debases our common humanity."
To draw attention to this scourge, President Barack Obama has, for the past five years, declared the month of January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
“Slavery tears at our social fabric, fuels violence and organized crime, and debases our common humanity. During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we renew our commitment to ending this scourge in all its forms,” he wrote in his December 31st proclamation of the observance.
No country can fight this battle alone, because trafficking in persons is both a trans-national and national crime.
The President was clear when he stated that “[b]ecause modern-day slavery is a global tragedy, combating it requires international action. The United States is shining a spotlight on the dark corners where it persists, placing sanctions on some of the worst abusers, giving countries incentives to meet their responsibilities, and partnering with groups that help trafficking victims escape from their abusers' grip. We are working with other nations as they step up their own efforts, and we are seeing more countries pass anti-human trafficking laws and improve enforcement.”
To truly make progress against modern-day slavery, all countries must work together, not only to dismantle the criminal networks that trade in human misery, but also to alleviate the conditions that make people vulnerable, and strengthen weak judicial and law enforcement institutions, which allow such criminals to operate with impunity.
“This month, I call on every nation, every community, and every individual to fight human trafficking wherever it exists,” wrote President Obama. “Let us declare as one that slavery has no place in our world, and let us finally restore to all people the most basic rights of freedom, dignity, and justice.”