Here I’m shown at YSS’s Risky Business Conference in Ames, facilitating a group of young people making banners to create awareness about human trafficking. We drew and painted colorful symbols on banners to be carried in demonstrations and parades or hung on walls.
Human trafficking, a modern form of slavery, is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world (source: UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency) and has been reported in all 50 states of the United States (source: National Human Trafficking Hotline). The root causes include the demand for prostitution and pornography, wide-spread poverty and homelessness, demand for cheap labor, gender discrimination, economic and social underdevelopment and abuse of power through control and exploitation.
In addition to the resources of the Polaris Project, I’ve been learning more about trafficking through the Franciscans, through United Action for Youth, even through Wheatsfield’s Fair Trade program. It’s inspiring to see young people working to raise awareness of what Pope Francis has called “an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ.”