National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

In America, President Barack Obama has once more proclaimed January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, acknowledging that the crime of modern-day slavery continues to plague our country and our communities

In his proclamation, he also stressed the commitment to bring “an end to this inexcusable human rights abuse.” “Human trafficking endangers the lives of millions of people around the world, and it is a crime that knows no borders,” said President Obama. “Nearly a century and a half ago, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a document that reaffirmed the noble goals of equality and freedom for all that lie at the heart of what it means to live in America.

In the years since, we have tirelessly pursued the realization and protection of these essential principles. Yet, despite our successes, thousands of individuals living in the United States and still more abroad suffer in silence under the intolerable yoke of modern slavery." The two most common kinds of slavery involve forced commercial sex or forced labor.

It is usually a hidden crime and victims rarely escape or seek help from law enforcement. Traffickers employ physical, mental and psychological abuse and violence in order to coerce, humiliate and shame their victims.

They create fear and mistrust of law enforcement, strangers and even other victims. Because of abuse, trauma and self-blame, otherwise ambitious and resourceful individuals continue to be slaves. “More than 27 million people are believe to be enslaved, 13 million of them children, which is more than any time in human history,” said Brenda Schultz, director, Responsible Business, Carlson Hotels. “That is why each of us must speak up about human trafficking, raise awareness about it, and help clear up the myths surrounding it so we can shed light on these horrific violations of human rights.”

During the month of January, several activities will take place at Carlson’s Minneapolis headquarters. There will be a Secret Struggle art exhibition with posters like the one above that draw attention to issues facing runaway and homeless youth, and education around the local Minnesota Girls are Not for Sale movement.

Other activities include a fund raising sale of Not My Life, the full-length documentary on international child trafficking that was partially funded by the Carlson Family Foundation, and a "testing your awareness IQ" program. “President Obama urges Americans to recognize the vital role they can play in ending modern slavery and urged them to observe the month with appropriate programs and activities,” said Brenda. “We encourage all employees, in Minneapolis and around the world, to take some time to get involved with this important human rights issue.”

At the request of the UN Global Compact, Carlson recently produced a case study of its efforts to combat the trafficking and exploitation of children to be published in the Compact’s Embedding Human Rights in Business Practice case studies series about efforts by companies to integrate human rights principles into their business practices.

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