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Slavery still exists. 

It’s something that we don’t talk about much today. Many people have no idea that there are currently an estimated 40 million enslaved peoples all over the world, according to The Washington Post. There are approximately 60,000 slaves in the United States.

Don’t believe this? Just Google “human trafficking” and see the thousands of articles and news reports that pop up.

Human trafficking might seem like something in the past or maybe something that really only exists in movies, but this is a real, growing issue that we shouldn’t ignore. With more slaves in the world than ever before, millions of men, women and children around the globe have their freedom taken away from them.  

According to an article from USA Today in 2011, the FBI and other law enforcement officials  monitor the Super Bowl every year for human trafficking, specifically prostitution. I was shocked when I heard that the Super Bowl is known for being an event in the United States with a high rate of trafficking activity.

In this article, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said, “It's commonly known as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States."

That article also referenced specific incidents that took place at past Super Bowls, including one where two men used Craigslist as a way to force a 14-year-old girl into prostitution during the game.

Just in this past week, UN News published an article with the headline, “Human trafficking cases hit a 13-year record high, new UN report shows.” According to this article, human traffickers mostly try to target and exploit women and girls. This article also reports that the most common form of slavery in the United States is sexual exploitation.

Horrifying things like this happen all the time in places all over the United States. And it’s our job to bring awareness to slavery around the world.

There’s a coalition called End It Movement made up of organizations that work hard to bring awareness, rescue and restoration to enslaved peoples all over the world. Each year in February, they hold a Shine a Light on Slavery Day, where anyone who wants to get involved can post about it on social media or draw a red “X” on their hands. The red “X” is just supposed to draw people’s attention and strike up a conversation about raising awareness. This year the day is Feb. 7, which is next Thursday.

So now the question is: how can you play a part in shedding light on this global problem?

One thing you can do is read up on the facts. Trust me, it will blow your mind. We need to educate ourselves on this growing problem. Enditmovement.com has facts about slavery in the world today as well as resources to help you spread awareness about slavery, including social media graphics that you can download for free and use.

You can also help support organizations like End It Movement that rescue and help human trafficking victims.

If you ever see a person who looks like he or she is in a dangerous situation, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888. 

This Thursday, you’ll see me with a red “X” on my hand. Shine a Light on Slavery Day is meant to start conversations with others that lead to awareness of a problem that exists in every corner of the globe. 

We need to use our voices to help those who suffer in silence.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.

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