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International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

December 2nd is the day set aside by the United Nations to commemorate the passing of Resolution 317(IV) in 1949.  This resolution was entitled, “United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.”  Today, Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon released the following statement:

“In the 19th century, the international community came together to declare slavery an affront to our common humanity. Today, governments, civil society and the private sector must unite to eradicate all contemporary forms of slavery, including forced labour. Together, let us do our utmost for the millions of victims throughout the world who are held in slavery and deprived of their human rights and dignity.”


Children engaged in stone and sand collection in Jaflong, Sylhet (Bangladesh). UN/Regina Merkova

The International Labor Organization has created the End It Now movement, teaming up with many artists and celebrities to shine a light on these forgotten people.  You can check out their site here.  Jada Pinkett Smith is one of the organization’s spokespersons and addresses the issue in this video:

To become part of this debate, use #EndSlaveryNow in social media and find out what you can do help abolish slavery.  Ideas on a slavery-free holiday season soon!

World AIDS Day 2014

AIDS-Free Generation


December 1st is World AIDS Day.  This day commemorates the lives that HIV/AIDS has taken over the past thirty-four years and reminds the world that we must continue to work against this devastating epidemic.  To get an idea about the number of lives that we are talking about, have a look at the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt:


This quilt weighs over 54 tons, is made up of over 48,000 panels, on 3,000 blocks, with eight names on each block.  That is way too many names.  You can see some of the blocks here.  When you think about how many lives are represented here, you get some sense of the devastation of this disease.

This relates to human trafficking in a very real way, because both AIDS and human trafficking follow the same patterns of poverty, war, and social unrest.  War and poverty make whole populations vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking.  In turn, those people are more vulnerable to contracting HIV from forced sex and exposure to drugs.  There is also a lack of effective medical treatments available to people in slavery and in the developing world.

This really highlights for me how interconnected the problems that we face are.  We do not and cannot exist in a vacuum.  And neither do the conflicts of our day.  We must truly be global in our thinking and in our actions.  I challenge you to thoughtfully remember those lost, support those living with this disease, and fight to prevent the spread to others.

Servitus- Slavery in the Ancient & Modern World

The Latin III class at WBHS created this video comparing slavery in ancient Rome to modern human trafficking.

At the end of the video, the students reference the number of slaves that work for them.  These figures come from Slavery Footprint.  This site calculates how many enslaved people were involved in the production of the items that you own.  It is an eye-opening experience.