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Ending Modern-Day Slavery

Posted At: March 14, 2013 11:40 A.M.
by Claudia Calhoun

Corporate responsibility and cause-related marketing are hot topics circulating throughout the business world today. As Americans, we are more aware of the world around us and how our businesses, products and purchasing habits are affecting others. A few years ago, we wanted to “Go Green” and save the environment from global warming, or we were fighting with the fashion industry for using real fur. While those issues are still very prevalent, one cause has emerged that plows into you like a freight train — modern-day slavery.

You may think that slavery ended with Lincoln and the Gettysburg address; however, the statistics are astounding, especially when it hits so close to home. Atlanta is ranked among the top 14 cities in the U.S. for children used in prostitution. There are 17,500 plus teenagers trafficked in the U.S. with an average age of only 14. Worldwide, there are anywhere from 10 to 27 million slaves, and the large gap is the result of this being mostly a “hidden” population. Human trafficking is an estimated $32 billion industry, yet what strikes me as a college student is that the majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years old.

So how does a world with many different cultures, governments and people embrace humanity and fight for freedom? This is where the End It movement was born. By creating a social media campaign solely focused on the awareness of the 27 million slaves, it uses the common thread that links the entire world together — the Internet.

There may have been many successful cause-related campaigns in the past, like the World Wildlife Fund’s posters and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals television commercials. Think about this, however: when has an organization taken on a previously hidden issue and brought it to life around the world? Imagine the impact it could have on the countries where a majority of the population is enslaved.

Creating awareness

One of the first tactics End It used was “Disappear for a Day on Social Media.” During this day, End It encouraged its followers to completely black out their Facebook and Twitter profiles and spend 27 hours not tweeting or posting statuses. The goal was to help people understand what it would be like to disappear from society and there be no trace of you.

The second tactic was tweeting a day in the life of Jenna, a sex trafficking victim from Atlanta. Starting at 8 a.m., tweets were sent out each hour to paint a picture of what a typical day is like for her. As a society, we tweet every thought, feeling, idea and event that happens to us, but these victims have no way to let their voices be heard because they are completely dependent upon their traffickers. One of the tweets mentions that Jenna will never receive a dime for her “work.”

By using Twitter as a platform, End It has capitalized on the fact that Americans check their phones an average of 150 times per day. Reeling them in with a human story and posting a new tweet each hour keep followers interested in finding out “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say.

The final and main tactic End It has planned is “Shine a Light on Slavery Day” on April 9, 2013. At the Passion Conference 2013 in Atlanta, the leaders of the seven partner organizations of End It came together to give the 60,000 attendees an idea of how this day would run. The red X  has started to spread and now people are becoming more aware and starting to ask questions. End It wanted to inform people of the 27 million enslaved, and on April 9, supporters will saturate their communities with the red X.

The plan is working and people are starting to recognize the issue of modern-day slavery. As a supporter and public relations student, I see the brilliance in using social media to make our generation aware of a modern issue. We are always encouraged to stand up for what we believe and raise our voices. What better way to raise a voice than to use the our social media presence that connect us to others around the world?

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