Awareness-raising campaigns are central to social-justice work. After all, how can anyone support a cause if they don’t know about it? But we must always make sure that our engagement with important issues goes beyond simply acknowledging that there’s a problem; we have to take action. January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, so this week we’re highlighting some ways you can get informed and get involved.
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All Month Long:
Everywhere: Stand against slavery for Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Often referred to as modern slavery, human trafficking is the illegal business of selling people into forced labor, usually for sexual exploitation. From major metropolitan areas to small towns, there are people being trafficked in every state. Many are children or young women, but there are victims of all ages and genders.
So what can you do about it? Start by supporting organizations like Shared Hope International, which advocates for victims’ rights at local and national levels. You can also learn what signs of human trafficking look like and report tips to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888. All calls are confidential and interpreters are available as needed.
Folks are working to abolish trafficking in Olympia, Washington, and San Jose, California; there’s a training for legislative advocacy in Denver, Colorado; and we’re looking ahead to an indigenous rights and environmental justice symposium in St. Louis, Missouri.
Wednesday, January 11
Olympia, Washington: Speak to state legislators at Human Trafficking Advocacy Day.
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
John A. Cherberg Building (JAC), 1st Floor, Room A
304 15th Ave. SW
Olympia, WA 98501
Seattle Against Slavery and Washington Engage have teamed up to bring concerns about modern slavery to the state capitol. The event will start with a few speakers to prepare participants to speak with local legislators. Attendees will then be sent to appointments with elected officials to discuss things like overturning convictions for survivors, state support for immigrant victims, and guardianship for immigrant minors. These conversations can change how officials vote and can even lead to new legislation. Make sure to register if you plan to attend.
San Jose, California: Educate yourself about the Intersection of Human Trafficking, Domestic Violence, and Sexual Violence.
6 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
YWCA Silicon Valley, Linda Haskell Empowerment Center
375 S 3rd St.
San Jose, CA 95112
Keeping with the theme for this month, YWCA Silicon Valley is hosting a series of free workshops about human trafficking. This second installment will take a look at how different forms of violence and exploitation are connected. Participants will learn why it is so important to tackle sexual slavery, domestic violence, and sexual assault as a system rather than separate issues, and be equipped with resources to help end this practice once and for all. More info about the series is available at the registration page.
Saturday, January 14
Denver, Colorado: Learn how to lobby at Legislative Advocacy 101.
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church
915 E 9th Ave.
Denver, CO 80218
The Colorado Mental Wellness Network and Mental Health Colorado want you to be an advocate for policy change. Both organizations lobby legislators to improve the quality of life for people living with mental illness, but they can’t do this without your help. The workshop will teach you what the legislative process is like and how engaging elected officials can make a difference. While centered on mental health, this free training can be applied to many different issues. Make sure to register ASAP.
Monday, February 6
St. Louis, Missouri: Explore the connection between Indigenous Rights and Environmental Justice.
8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Washington University in St. Louis, Clark-Fox Forum, Hillman Hall
1 Brookings Dr.
St. Louis, MO 63130
This daylong symposium will cover land ownership rights of indigenous communities, how the Dakota Access Pipeline affects locals, and a range of environmental issues from St. Louis to Standing Rock. Instead of a registration fee, attendees are asked to bring an item for donation to help schools and organizations in the Cannon Ball, North Dakota, area. A list of requested items will be sent out prior to the symposium. Register now and clear your calendar for some environmental justice.
Change begins with awareness. Once our eyes are opened to an issue, we can prepare ourselves and others to take action. Whether that means bringing out the sun or calling down a storm, we need you!