Walk for Freedom

Slavery Still Exists

An Account of the Event- Sadie Stevens

It’s 2017 and slavery is still a very real issue in our world. Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery, most commonly found in situations of sexual labor or forced labor. But a person can become victim of human trafficking in a variety of contexts; anything that includes their loss of freedom through trade.

People say that we as human beings have a right to be free from any form of slavery, abuse, violence, and fear. People say that those rights are our fundamental freedom as humans and we should be respected equally no matter how rich or how poor.  People also stated that children need to be protected because they are vulnerable; children are not supposed to work in a horrible environment or, even worse, become sex slaves for adults.

More than 27 million people and more than 12 million children are trapped in slavery at the moment you are reading this. Walk for Freedom gives us a chance to raise awareness and to be a voice to the voiceless. With each walk, we are one step closer to ending human trafficking in our lifetime.

Human trafficking happens in nearly every country in the world. We are now living in a world where human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise. These poor individuals are forced into abusive situations every single day without pay and under threat of violence — and they’re unable to walk away. There’s no access for them to run once they are trapped in these deceitful circumstances. Individuals are forced to do things that they never imagined before.

The average age of a young woman first being trafficked is between 12 and 15 years old. Can you imagine a 12-year-old girl having to face the harsh reality that she must serve people that she doesn’t even know, being forced to do things against her will every day? Girls this age should experience each day joyfully, having fun with their friends, receiving a good education, and experiencing the life of a normal teenager. But sadly, the victims of human trafficking don’t have this — they are lucky enough if they don’t get killed. Human trafficking caused bruises to its victims that never will fade away.

Many slaves have been tricked by traffickers who lure vulnerable people to false promises of good jobs or education. These traffickers usually fascinate the victims with high hopes that they will have a much better life — a new life that’s brighter than their life back home. This needs to be stopped.

On October 14th, I participated in the A21 Walk For Freedom in Toronto with a group of students and faculty from Redeemer. This walk was one of the most profound statements I’ve ever made in my life. We walked in complete silence with the bandana of a victim covering our mouths, dressed similarly and walking in sync, straight faced and ready for battle.

A Faculty Member’s Response to the Event: Dr. Epp

Ivan. This was the name on the bandana which covered my mouth. I stood in the midst of a throng of students, faculty, concerned citizens, and leaders of A21, gathered to let the world know about human trafficking. We heard the words of a woman who herself had been trafficked, and we were exposed to the scars which she still carries. She introduced us to the sudden violence of traffickers, who prey upon the unsuspecting.

            In spite of celebrating 150 years as a nation, Canadians are implicit in the trade of human beings. People are kidnapped and taken to hotels in our cities and then made to serve clientele in the Canadian industry of ‘adult’ entertainment. As we walked in silence, I found evidence of several of these establishments: the strip club, the upstairs massage lounge, the ‘adultorama’ store.

            I was reminded of the things I take for granted: freedom to move, to speak, to have some control over my life. Not everyone in the world is so fortunate. A21 reports the following on its website: “Millions of slaves. A $150 billion industry. 1% ever rescued.”

            As a Sociology prof, I have spoken about human trafficking on many occasions, but on the day of the walk I was actually representing an individual, a victim of human trafficking who had been rescued. A21 is living testimony to the hope that we have for the world through our Lord, who taught us to love and care for each other, perhaps especially for those people who suffer from the violence of our world. We can work to change this world.

If we believe.

If we act.

Today.

P.S. I am so impressed by the Students of Applied Social Sciences, the student organization that organized our trip to Toronto. Go SOAPS!

 

A Student’s Response to the Event- Kendra Slagter

Throughout my Redeemer experience, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly passionate about the issue of human trafficking. It blows my mind knowing that slavery continues to exist in the form of human trafficking and that it is happening in my own city.

The A21 Walk for Freedom was an active way to stand against human trafficking and to be a part of a global movement that refuses to remain immobilized and hopeless in the face of this growing issue. On October 14th, we walked single file through the cold, rainy streets of Toronto. We were dressed in black and wore yellow bandanas labeled with the name of a human trafficking survivor around our mouths.

We were totally silent, all 150 of us. Though we were silent, we were noticeable, and we made our presence known. However, the silence not only made pedestrians around us uncomfortable, but it made me uncomfortable. For one hour, we were to be completely silent, which forced me to reflect on the severity of human trafficking and the personal experiences of survivors. The silence was overwhelming because all I could do was wrestle with my emotions and thoughts.

Halfway through the walk I found myself praying. I was praying for the victims who had not yet been rescued, for the survivors who were being rehabilitated into society, and for us who were walking and those who were watching. I prayed that this issue would impact each and every one of us in a more personal way, and for each individual to lean into the discomfort they were feeling.

I believe God calls us into places of discomfort in order for us to question our abilities and where He is calling us. God is calling us to fight for those who are oppressed and marginalized, and the A21 Walk for Freedom was a very easy (yet uncomfortable) way to do so.  Although we cannot solve human trafficking overnight, everyone can do something, and it starts with showing up.

 

Conclusion- Sadie Stevens

Anyone can be a victim of trafficking. But of course, there are things we can do to prevent that from happening. Spread the word and help raise awareness in our society about human trafficking. We are lucky we live in a better place. The moment you decide to care is the moment this world becomes a better place to live in. Thank you to everyone who participated in this walk; it’s not too late for you to raise awareness and help shine their light. Join the walk and with each step we will help change the world and declare freedom for all.