Pope Francis has a vision to eradicate modern day slavery and human trafficking by 2020, and along with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and Chair and Founder of the Walk Free Foundation Andrew Forrest, he founded the Global Freedom Network to do just that.
Today, on the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, IJM founder and president Gary Haugen joined faith leaders from around the world at the Vatican, where the Global Freedom Network is based, to rally governments, civil societies, organizations and people of diverse religious backgrounds, to put an end to modern slavery and human trafficking.
"My primary message today was just making sure that people understand that the primary reason there is so much slavery in our world today is because of impunity. That is to say slavery flourishes in our world because people don't get in trouble for it," Haugen said. "If we are going to turn the tide in the fight against slavery the church and leaders in the fight will need to emphasize with governments that they must enforce their laws against slavery."
WATCH an interview with Haugen, live from the Vatican, on EWTN News Nightly:
Former IJM legal fellow Rob Colvin was also invited to the Vatican to join the Global Freedom Network's first-ever youth symposium earlier in November. The two-day event brought together more than 100 young leaders from around the world who are committed to combatting slavery and trafficking in order to tell and hear stories about their involvement in the anti-slavery movement.
Today, there are nearly 2 million children in the commercial sex trade and the Global Slavery Index (GSI) estimates that there are almost 36 million entrapped in modern day slavery. The pope's call to action and declaration to end this crime against humanity is proof that facts like these can no longer be ignored. A critical first step to upending the stats surrounding modern day slavery lies in strengthening the response by public justice systems. A strong public justice system that acts as a credible deterrent to slave owners can significantly reduce the existence of slavery and help restore dignity and freedom to all.
You can join the fight against slavery and human trafficking this holiday season by purchasing a life-saving gift through the 2014 IJM Holiday Gift Catalog, because the best gifts can't be wrapped!