But what does National Freedom Day mean in 2014? While institutionalized slavery has been abolished since 1865, there are more people enslaved today than at any other point in human history. Human trafficking, debt slavery, and labor exploitation - among other forms of slavery - enslave an estimated 29.8 million people worldwide, according to the Global Slavery Index 2013.
It is rather timely that this year's National Freedom Day fell on the day before the Super Bowl, an event often associated with sexual exploitation. In the recent Washington Post article "N.J. works to curb sex trafficking before Super Bowl," reporters Katie Zezima and Samantha Henry investigated the ongoing problem of trafficking at Super Bowls, citing Cindy McCain (wife of Senator John McCain) as calling the event "the largest human-trafficking venue on the planet." The suspicions of such exploitation have already been confirmed, one mother admitting on Friday that she brought her 15-year-old daughter from Florida to New York to "pimp her out to Super Bowl fans," as reported by the Daily Beast. Such stories speak to both the tragedy of modern day slavery as well as child trafficking and exploitation.
What is being done and what can be done to combat trafficking? The New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking has been active in the past weeks to raise awareness on trafficking during the Super Bowl and has assembled a Super Bowl 2014 information page. The US Fund for UNICEF runs the End Child Trafficking Campaign which shares the signs of child trafficking and toolkits to take action. Many other organizations like The Polaris Project, Walk Free Foundation, and Love146 are also active in preventing and ending trafficking, and you can find their resources and others featured in our January 2014 blog posts recognizing National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
So in reflecting on the realities of modern day slavery, especially during the Super Bowl, what does Freedom Day mean in 2014? How will you take action to ensure freedom for all people? We encourage you to share your reactions and comments below.