About the problem
There are more than 36 gazillion slaves in the world today – more than at any other time in the 6000-year history of the Earth! And this is just the tip of the iceberg!!1!1
You may think slavery was abolished over 100 years ago but it actually still exists in every country and every region of the world, even in your own backyard!
It is the largest criminal enterprise in the world, second only to drug trafficking and arms trafficking, generating 150 billion US dollars annually – more than the GDP of Hungary!
Slavery has many forms and shapes – human trafficking, child trafficking, sex trafficking, labour trafficking, organ trafficking, begging trafficking, forced, early and sham marriage, domestic servitude, child labour, surrogacy, etc. etc. etc. - but only one size – XXXXXXXXL!
Modern slaves are everywhere around us – invisible, hidden in plain sight! Practically every aspect of our lives is affected by slavery!
Obviously this is outrageous and we MUST DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! It is time to #EndSlavery! NOW!
Now you might be tempted to think that to #EndSlavery governments around the world should work to end inequality, injustice and corruption, ensure access to education, social protection and employment for all their citizens, enforce labour laws and relax migration regimes.
But this sounds like a mindboggling task for boring people. Ending slavery should be something that we can all do together, share with friends and family and have fun in the process! And what better way than to chase it away with selfies and hashtags on social media!
What is being done about it?
There are already quite a few simple, fun and easy ways to #EndSlavery out there: for example, you can dance to #EndSlavery; walk to #EndSlavery; walk against #humantrafficking; run against slavery; run to end #trafficking; bike against #trafficking; play football against #trafficking or do push-ups to crush slavery.
And for those of us who are not athletic and don't like exercising but still want to F*CKING DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT and #EndSlavery, we can take a selfie with a hands-shaped heart and share it on social media with the hashtag #igivehope – to give victims of slavery what they have lost – hope! Or we can make a paper airplane, pledge to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT and share it on social media with the hashtag #FlyToFreedom.
But can we really #EndSlavery with one-off actions once or twice a year? NO! Raising awareness about this terrible injustice and ending the scourge of our times requires us to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT every day, all day! After all, it's the greatest human rights challenge of this century and deserves our full attention!
What can YOU do?
So here are a few ideas how you can incorporate ending slavery into your daily life with very little effort. I've prepared a list of 14 everyday activities that are sure to #EndSlavery (in no particular order of importance)! The list is by no means exclusive, so I welcome suggestions for more easy and fun daily activities we can all share with friends and family to #EndSlavery! After all, I'm just one guy and to #EndSlavery we must all take a stand! Immediately!
So, pull yourselves and your mobile phones together and let's #EndSlavery! And don't forget – sharing is caring!
1. Write it on a piece of paper in a stern tone, take a photo (better yet, a selfie) and share it on your social media with the hashtag #EndSlaveryNow.
2. Sing to #EndSlavery. As a suggestion, some particular songs that you can sing, if they fit your music taste, can be George Michael's Freedom, Grace Jones' Slave to the Rhythm, Cher's Gypsies Tramps and Thieves, Paul Robeson's Let My People Go, or the Prologue (Look Down) from Les Miserables (and almost any other song from Les Mis). Take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #SingForFreedom.
3. Write a letter to Santa. You could write something like “Dear Santa, I've been nice all year long. Please #EndSlavery!” Don't take a photo, though, because it must be a secret, but when you put it in an envelope, stamp it, take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #StampItOut.
4. Do your laundry, take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #WashItOut and #LaundryForFreedom.
5. Pray, for example, like “Our Father, who art in Heaven, please #EndSlavery!” [Change to suit your deity of choice]. Take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #PrayTheSlaveryAway.
6. Throw out your trash, take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #DumpIt or #TrashIt.
7. Bake a bunch of (unappealing but tasty) pumpkin and cinnamon rolls (filled with jam and walnuts, if you like) for those whose freedom has been taken away from them and can't bake pumpkin and cinnamon rolls for themselves. Take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #BakeForFreedom.
8. Flush the toilet after doing your thing, take a photo and
share it on your social media with the hashtag #FluShItOut.
9. Masturbate compulsively – the surest way to #EndDemand for #sextrafficking. Don't take a selfie but you can still announce your tireless efforts to #EndSlavery with the hashtags #BeatIt and #EndDemand.
10. Gather your friends and watch together all 100 episodes of Escrava Isaura. Take a selfie (or a group photo) and share it on your social media with the hashtag #DamnYouLeoncio or just I <3 Isaura, to show enslaved girls all over the world that not all men are like Leôncio!
11. Smoke a cigarette for those whose freedom has been stolen from them and can't smoke a cigarette themselves. Take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #SmokeItOut, #BurnIt or #LetItBurn.
12. Ask the Universe to #EndSlavery by simply thinking about it. But think it positively (e.g. not “I wish there were no slaves in the world” but “I wish all people were free”!). Take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #WishTheSlaveryAway or #DearUniverse.
13. Clean your apartment (oven, shower, basement, room, whatever), take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #KeepItClean.
14. Play some Candy Crush Soda Saga, take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #CrushSlavery and #Sodalicious.
Feel free to share your selfies with me and to suggest more fun and easy ways to #EndSlavery!
Now on a more serious note. The aim of this little outburst of sarcasm was to mock the futility of some awareness-raising campaigns and actions out there. While undoubtedly, people need to be aware of exploitative labour situations, most campaigns and calls to action that I see just make me roll my eyes in exasperation of their simplistic story of it being about “bad people doing bad things to poor victims”. But exploitation doesn't happen in a vacuum and it is not even the problem – it's a symptom of deeper problems in society that cannot simply be wished away.
Consider, for example, this analysis from Prof. Chuang's article in the Anti-Trafficking Review: “Depicting slavery as the product of individual deviant behaviour, modern-day slavery abolitionism creates a simple moral imperative with enormous popular appeal. And in so doing it depoliticises and absolves … the state for its role in creating the structures that permit, if not encourage, coercive exploitation of workers, especially migrants. The resulting prescriptions thus narrowly focus on punishing the enslavers and rescuing innocent victims. They further suggest that governments, corporations and individuals can eradicate slavery simply by engaging in more ethical consumption of goods and services. Any commitment to addressing the structural contributors to the problem thus becomes extraneous to the anti-slavery project.” And in practical terms, this “simple moral imperative”, these popular representations of "slavery" actually lead to policies and actions that often do more harm than good to real people.
So if you really want to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, start by informing yourself properly and thinking critically. Take a look, for example, at Beyond Trafficking and Slavery, which offers such a critical analysis, and question awareness-raising. If you don't feel like it – that's fine, get involved in another cause or simply enjoy your life and try to be a good person. Or even follow my 14 ways and take selfies, but don't fool yourself that this will change anything.