“College students (and college-age young people) have been the leaders of almost every social movement that’s ever existed. So it’s pretty natural that they’re some of the biggest movers and shakers in the abolitionist movement as well. Wanna be part of the movement? Here are 10 things you can do to help end human trafficking.
1.Update your status. When it comes to human trafficking, making people aware that slavery still exists is half the battle. Whether you use Facebook, MySpace, BlackPlanet, Twitter, or something else, make a commitment to post an item or set your status to mention human trafficking once a week. You can link to an article or blog post, or simply make a “Did you know … ” statement about human trafficking. For instance, “Did you know there are more slaves today than when slavery was legal in the 1830s?” By telling your friends, you help educate people about this important issue.
2.Throw a viewing party. Invite your friends, sorority/fraternity, Ultimate Frisbee team, or hall mates over to watch a movie about human trafficking and the talk about it. A film, either a documentary or fictional story, is a great way to introduce people to the issue and get them talking. Not ready to come out as an abolitionist at school? Start with your family over a holiday break. For some suggested short films, check out this list.
3.Pressure your school to buy better. Do you know if the spirit gear in the school bookstore is sweatshop free? Or if the coffee on campus is grown by slaves? Find out. And if your school isn’t buying slave-free products that are good for workers, get the some fellow students and lay on the pressure. I got my university to offer Fair Trade coffee after a few months of petitions and phone calls. You can really make a difference in how your school spends money.
4.Boycott pimp n’ ho parties. Pimp n’ ho parties (and related themes where women dress up like prostitutes) are for people that don’t really understand what pimps are. Sure, some mindless 50 Cent and Three Six Mafia fans might think pimps are cool, but you know real pimps are criminals. They abuse, rape, and exploit women and girls. They are human traffickers. Who wants to dress up as a human trafficker?
5.Buy fair trade. When we buy only dirt cheap goods and services, traffickers enslave workers and children to make producing those products cheaper. Slaves pick our fruit, make our clothing, clean our hotel rooms, serve our food, and do a number of other tasks without our knowing. By buying Fair Trade Certified goods, you support companies and products which ensure a living wage for the producers and humane working conditions. Learn more about what buying fair trade means.
6.Support education and opportunities for girls. Girls, especially young and teen girls, make up the majority of human trafficking victims because in many countries (including the U.S.) they lack the same educational and economic opportunities given to men. There are a number of international microeconomic development programs which give opportunities to girls, as well as U.S.-based organizations like the Girl Scouts which can help low-income girls afford college. Giving other girls an education means they can make their own choices.
7.Think globally, act locally (on campus and off). It’s great to involve the on-campus community in your activism, but what about the larger community around your college? Whether your school is rural or urban, and whether you’re a commuter or on-campus student, you can reach beyond your classmates. Why not take your activism to a local mall, park, or other place where people gather. You might be surprised at what resources are available to you in your immediate community, even off campus.
8.Express the importance of freedom through art, music, or performance. A college student with a love of theater and a passion for abolition once noticed that there were a number of talented actors at her school. So she wrote a short play based on real narratives of former slaves and cast her fellow students in the play. By charging a small admission fee to the show and selling products from Ten Thousand Villages, she was able to raise awareness in her community and over $1000 for a local anti-slavery NGO in a single night.
9.Lay off the porn. A lot of spare time plus unlimited Internet access means a lot of porn for some college students. But did you know that 20% of pornographic images online are of trafficked children? Do you want to take the risk that you’re supporting an industry that exploits kids? Internet porn can also be a huge time-suck and possibly a relationship killer. So try giving screen smut a rest for awhile.
10.Take action at Change.org. Here at Change.org, we have a lot you can do. Write a letter to a company asking them to stop using slave labor in making a product you like. Take a pledge to make better choices or host a fundraiser. If you don’t see an action you like, start one of your own. Check out the end human trafficking actions here.
So now you know 10 things to do to end human trafficking — if I missed something, let me know. Or better yet, create your own project and tell me about it. The 27 million slaves all over the world are waiting for you to act. What are you waiting for?”
Written by Amanda Kloer