By Gwen Sisson
Red “X”s are everywhere today.
Human trafficking, bonded labor and forced labor are all part of a “hidden” population of slaves around the world. The CNN Freedom Project defines slavery as “occurring when one person completely controls another person, using violence or the threat of violence to maintain that control, exploits them economically, pays them nothing and they cannot walk away.”
Members of First Baptist Church of Eupora first became aware of the End It Movement’s campaign to bring awareness to the issue of slavery following the Passion Conference in Atlanta in January. Conference attendees were encouraged to bring awareness to their home churches and communities.
“I feel it’s important to raise awareness because I think a lot of people were like me – I just didn’t know anything about it and probably took for granted that something like slavery doesn’t exist anymore,” said Jason Carson, associate pastor for FBC Eupora and Passion Conference attendee. “One thing Louie Giglio pointed out at the conference this year was that some people might be cynical about it and think, ‘What good is drawing a red ‘X’ on my hand going to do? That’s not going to stop slavery!’ Awareness alone will not end slavery, but slavery cannot be eradicated without awareness. The point of the ENDITMOVEMENT is to make people aware of this travesty and show them avenues of advocacy for these victims.”
Kevin Barnette, FBC Eupora’s director of students and Passion Conference attendee, said the End It Movement has been around for about three years now, but the Passion Conference has been the primary source for communication.
“One thing that involves slavery is the products that come into the United States,” Barnette said. “There are a lot of things that are shipped here but are made from child laborers and other victims of slavery. People need to be made aware of all this and finally The End It Movement is making it happen!”
According to the Enditmovement.com website, bonded labor is one of the most widely used methods of slavery. “A person becomes a bonded laborer when their labor it used as a means of payment for a loan.”
Forced labor is any work or services which people are forced to do, against their will under the threat of some form of punishment, according to antislavery.org. Children below the age of 18 represent between 40 percent and 50 percent of all forced labor victims. And 80 percent of all people trafficked into forced labor both for economic and sexual exploitation are women and children.
According to Antislavery.org, human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest international criminal industry in the world and it is the fastest growing. Human Trafficking is defined as transporting people away from the communities in which they live and forcing them to work against their will using violence, deception and coercion. An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year. 43 percent of trafficking victims are used for forced commercial sexual exploitation, of whom 98 percent are women and children.
“It’s a problem that’s not going away any time soon, and it should be a matter of constant prayer,” Carson said.
On Feb. 27 people are encouraged to draw a red “X” on either hand or both. The specific date of the 27th was chosen to remind people of the estimated 27 million people in slavery around the world today. People are also encouraged to change their profile pictures on their various social networks.
“The whole point is to start conversation,” Carson said. “It was emphasized at the conference this year for people to be creative in the way they promote the ENDITMOVEMENT. Think of unique ways to make people remember this. I’ve seen pictures of things people have done to promote it, such as building giant red “X”‘s in their yards or gathering large groups of people into a giant “X”. Whatever people do, they are asked to make a picture of it and post it with the hashtag #ENDITMOVEMENT.”
The ENDITMOVEMENT is a coalition of advocacy groups around the world, and each of them has specific goals towards eradicating human trafficking. People can also follow and post with the hashtag #ENDITMOVEMENT on their social networks. For information, visit www.enditmovement.com.