The red Xs represent the “Shine A Light On Slavery” Day.
You’ll notice a lot of red Xs on Facebook, Instagram, and every other social media outlet today and they have an important message behind them. Celebrities, politicians, and everyday folks are sharing them to raise awareness about modern-day slavery and human trafficking.
Nearly 21 million people – including 1.5 million in North America – are forced into human trafficking, according to an International Labour Organization report from 2012. Since it’s now 2017, we know those numbers have only increased. There’s essentially two categories of modern-day slavery, sex trafficking and labor trafficking, but they’re both horrific. Which is why five years ago the nonprofit End It Movement started to raise awareness, help, and funds for victims through their “Shine A Light On Slavery” Day.
The concept is simple, you mark something with a red X, snap a picture of it, and share it on social media profiles. You’ll see celebrities like Ashton Kutcher taking part. Last week, the actor told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about his work to end human trafficking during its End Modern Slavery hearing.
“As part of my anti-trafficking work, I’ve met victims in Russia, I’ve met victims in India, I’ve met victims that have been trafficked from Mexico, victims from New York and New Jersey and all across our country. I’ve been on FBI raids where I’ve seen things that no person should ever see,” he said while holding back tears. Kutcher is a father of two children under the age of 3. “I’ve seen video content of a child that’s the same age as mine being raped by an American man that was a sex tourist in Cambodia. And this child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play.”
If you don’t have a red sharpie or lipstick handy, download some resources from the End It Movement. Tag your pics with #EndSlaveryAct and #EndItMovement to spark conversations with your friends and support for the legislation works to end modern-day slavery. Last December, the End Slavery Act was signed into law and with that came a commitment from politicians to reduce modern slavery by 50 percent and punish individual and corporate perpetrators of trafficking.
The law also involves a crucial funding component that hasn’t yet been fulfilled, which is why awareness and support is so necessary. Working with private sector donors and foreign governments the United States raising $1.5 billion that will go towards “the freeing and sustainable recovery of victims of modern slavery,” as well as the prevention of individuals from enslavement.
So how can you help?
- Share red Xs and have some tough talks with the people in your life who aren’t aware human trafficking is an epidemic.
- Sign up to be a digital defender and work against the sexual exploitation of children online.
- Volunteer with anti-trafficking nonprofit groups.
- And donate what you can to organizations like the End It Movement.
Kutcher explained why it’s important we all get involved: “When people are left out, when they’re neglected, when they’re not supported, and when they’re not given the love they need to grow, it becomes an incubator for trafficking.”