by Kay Marshall Strom
I was in India researching the first of my international books, Daughters of Hope, when I came face-to-face with the reality of modern-day slavery. Jyoti, a young teen, was showing me through a city built on a huge garbage dump, her childhood home. A shabby little girl stopped to stare at us, but when we tried to talk to her, she ran away.
“What will become of her?” I asked Jyoti.
Jyoti covered her face and sobbed.
We sat together in the garbage dump, Jyoti and I, and she told me her story. She was about the age of the shabby little girl when her father sold her into prostitution. She managed to escape, but when she arrived back home her enraged father attacked her with a machete.
“Please,” Jyoti begged, “take me home with you. I’ll work for you forever and you never have to pay me anything.”
Slavery was all she knew.
“Wait!” many will say. “You mean people still keep slaves today? Isn’t that against the law?”
Yes they do and yes it is. Every country of the world outlaws slavery. Even so, at least three times as many people live as slaves today as in the horrible days of the African Slave Trade. When the first Abolition bill passed in 1807, 4 million people were enslaved. Today, according to UNICEF, the number is more like 12 million.
Of course, slaves no longer come chained together in slave ships, to be sold in open air slave markets. Today they are bonded laborers, enslaved for life for a small debt; or they are child laborers; or victims of human or sex trafficking. But they are slaves nevertheless.
Want to join me as a 21st Century Abolitionist? Here are some ways:
* Educate yourself, and pass it on. Become a slavery expert. Read all you can about the issues and be ready to pass your knowledge on to others.
* Join with others already making a difference. It’s hard to jump in alone and do something of substance. But others have already carved out a place on the forefront.
Consider: International Justice Mission (IJM) www.ijm.org
Free the Slaves www.WarSlavery.org
Anti-Slavery International www.antislavery.org
* Make your voice heard. Petition your elected officials to place a high priority on enforcing anti-slavery laws and to put real pressure on countries that tolerate forced labor.
* Buy fair traded products. Fair trade provides a justice-based sustainable model of international trade. If your local retailers don’t stock these, request that they start.
* Step into the gap on another’s behalf. If you suspect someone is being held against his or her will, call the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s free hotline: 1-888-428-7581. Professionals will take it from there—even if you are wrong!
* Pray Micah 6:8. What does the Lord require? Justice. Mercy. A humble walk with God.
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say, ‘I did not know.’”
Kay Marshall Strom is the author of thirty-six published books. Five were chosen as book club selections, nine have been translated into foreign languages, and one was optioned for a movie. Already well established as a non-fiction writer, her Grace In Africa fiction series has met with high acclaim, receiving praise from Publishers Weekly and a starred “Highly recommended” review from the Library Journal and placement on ALA Booklist’s 2010 listing of “Top Ten Inspirational Fiction.” Book 3 of the series, The Triumph of Grace, was released February 1, 2011. The first of her Blessings in India series will release in September 2011. In addition to her writing, Kay is an in-demand speaker. Her work as a 21st century abolitionist takes her around the globe where she speaks out against social injustice, especially modern-day slavery.