“This is not an event about feel-good, ineffective ‘slacktivisim,’” said Sarah Troxel, sophomore intercultural studies and applied linguistics double major and Union’s International Justice Mission president. “It’s about raising awareness and doing concrete action.”
Members of Union’s International Justice Mission (IJM) chapter stood in shifts from midnight Wed., April 8 to midnight Thurs., April 9, representing a 24-hour day in the life of a slave.
According to a recent report by the Global Slavery Index, the estimated number of people currently enslaved around the world exceeds 36 million – more than ever in human history.
International Justice Mission is one of the many organizations working to raise awareness about and ultimately end slavery, human trafficking and other injustices.
The Stand for Freedom is a part of International Justice Mission’s annual Freedom week and takes place in various college campuses across the globe. One main goal is to raise awareness.
“Surprisingly there are still many people that don’t even know modern day slavery exists,” Troxel said, “And the fight against it definitely starts with raising awareness, though that’s not the end-all-be-all. It’s the start.”
The second goal is prayer, mainly during the lonely night hours of the vigil when there aren’t a lot of people passing by.
“It’s a soul-formation kind of thing,” Troxel said. “This is our solidarity with the people who are enslaved.”
Another goal is to get as many signatures as possible on the petition supporting the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015, which passed unanimously through the Foreign Affairs Committee and is now up for debate in Senate, then the House of Representatives, Troxel said.
“Basically the Act will set up a foundation, run by politicians and experts who study human trafficking and slavery, to raise funds, a total of $1.5 billion [is the goal] over 8 years,” Troxel said. “The passage and implementation of this Act can help ensure the long-term success of local justice systems.”
If the Act is passed, the money will come from the federal government, foreign governments and various businesses. Those resources will then be allocated to well-established and effective organizations that are fighting slavery at its roots through education, permanent rescue of current slaves and aid in the recovery and transition back into society of former slaves, Troxel said.
By signing the petition, the senators and representatives in various states will still see that there are a lot of people, including college students, who are concerned about this bill. In addition to signing the petition, those desiring to get involved can help raise awareness about this issue through social media by posting about the petition or encouraging friends to donate to organizations like International Justice Mission.
“That’s a big thing I have neglected,” Troxel said. “It is really valuable to educate our friends online. That’s where the fight against slavery starts because a lot of it is lack of awareness, which I could not fully understand until I read about the issues more.”
Sophomore social work major Shelby Wall said, “I’m thankful to have been made aware about this petition and be able to be a helping hand in the fight against modern day slavery.”
During the stand, the petition received 288 new signatures from students, faculty and staff from 25 different states.
“It’s encouraging to see IJM be persistent in raising awareness of this issue as the number of slaves increases annually,” said junior Spanish major Brady Teague.
Those interested in long-term involvement on campus may attend Union’s International Justice Mission meetings on Mondays at 8 p.m. in Bowld 221.
“Pray. Keep praying,” Troxel said. “Everyone needs to pray.”
To sign the petition and learn more about International Justice Mission, click here.