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  • Writer's pictureGrace Episcopal Church

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month 2022

By Deacon Mary Delancey

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness about the different forms of human trafficking, also known as modern slavery. The goal of this month is to educate people about the existence of this evil, how to spot it, and how we can prevent it.

Trafficking in persons, also known as modern slavery or human trafficking, includes both forced labor and sex trafficking. Human trafficking is an evil that, as Christians, we must work to end. One of our fundamental beliefs is that humans are created in the image of God. Because we are created in the image of God, all people deserve a basic dignity and should not be dehumanized, exploited or marginalized - all of which happen in human trafficking. Because we recognize this image in ourselves and other, we must defend the basic dignity deserved by human beings and act to protect that dignity.

By some estimates, as many as 40 million people — adults and children — are trapped in some form of human trafficking around the world. And not just in countries on the other side of the world, but in the United States and, yes, even Ocala/Marion County. Instability caused by natural disasters, conflict, or a pandemic can increase opportunities for traffickers to exploit others. During the COVID-19 pandemic, traffickers are continuing to harm people, finding ways to innovate and even capitalize on the chaos.

The US State Department says that human trafficking represents a threat to international peace and security. It undermines the rule of law, robs millions of their freedom, enriches transnational criminals and terrorists, and threatens public safety and national security everywhere.

At the City Council Meeting on January 18th, Mayor Guinn will proclaim January Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Ocala. Then to increase awareness and share information with the community, the Marion County Human Trafficking Task Force, in partnership with Grace Church, will be hosting the Red Sand Project this January 20th from 5:15 to 6pm at Citizen’s Circle in downtown Ocala. The Red Sand Project is a way for people to come together and connect, raising awareness about human trafficking. We will fill the seams in the bricks of Citizen’s Circle in recognition of the millions - some estimates say 40 million - of men, women and children who are trapped in modern day slavery. These enslaved people often fall through the cracks of our social networks and community services.

Join us to learn more about human trafficking and to get information out to our community about how they can be part of the fight to end modern day slavery. Together we can end modern day slavery now. Everyone can be part of the solution.

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