National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
January 11, 2024 @ 12:00 am
National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, observed annually on January 11th, serves as a crucial platform to bring attention to the grave issue of human trafficking. This day, while part of the broader National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month recognized in January, is specifically committed to raising awareness and preventing this illicit practice. The day is distinct from the World Day Against Trafficking Persons, which is established by the United Nations. Instituted by the Senate in 2007, the day of observance has since attracted extensive public backing, ranging from individual contributions to government-orchestrated events. Human trafficking, a deplorable violation of human rights, can impact individuals from all races and backgrounds, and on this day, everyone is urged to join the fight against human trafficking wherever it prevails.
Human trafficking, as defined by Unitas, involves exploiting another individual for labor, domestic servitude, or commercial sexual activity through force, fraud, or coercion. It also encompasses the act of enslaving or exploiting unwilling people. Regrettably, some form of slavery has persisted for centuries, and it continues to exist today, with many being oblivious to this grim reality. People are typically familiar with the slave trade that started in the 1400s and beyond. Initiated by Europeans, it resulted in the captivity and bondage of millions of Africans from across the continent, who were eventually sold for labor or sexual exploitation. This practice thrived in countries such as Spain, the burgeoning United States, Holland, France, Sweden, and Denmark for centuries. It was not until the late 1700s and 1800s that governments began to denounce the Transatlantic slave trade as illegal, with Great Britain leading the way in 1807, and the United States following suit in 1820.
The acknowledgment of the Transatlantic Slave Trade as immoral prompted governments to start addressing “white slavery,” the contemporary term for sexual human trafficking. The International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic was enacted in 1904 by European monarchs, and 12 countries signed the International Convention for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic. The term “white slavery” was later replaced with “traffic in women and children” by the League of Nations. The late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries marked significant progress in the movement against human trafficking. In 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act became the first federal law to address modern-day slavery. The American charity group Free The Slaves, affiliated with Anti-Slavery International, was also established. In 2007, the US Senate ratified the resolution declaring January 11th as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. In 2010, President Obama dedicated the entire month of January to the awareness and prevention of human trafficking. Today, more than 50 organizations worldwide are dedicated to combating this illegal practice, and awareness about the issue is higher than ever before.