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You Can Help Set Them Free

By Patrick Carney

Think about the children in your life. They might be your own kids, your grandkids, nieces and nephews, neighbors. What do you think of when you think of children? A loving family, noisy schoolyard, time with friends?

The Father Benito Ibaretta Home for Young Girls in Bohicon, Benin, is a CRS-supported center for rescued girls who have been trafficked.

At least 12.3 million people are trafficked worldwide in 161 countries around the world. Will you join the fight to end this horrifying problem? Photo by Lane Hartill/CRS

Now, imagine your child trapped in a life of slavery where he's forced to work in a labor camp; she's forced into prostitution.

Impossible? It happens every day.

The first African slaves arrived in America by boat in the early 17th century. For more than 200 years, people throughout this country bought, sold and abused millions of slaves. Then, after a bloody Civil War, the United States abolished slavery. To this day, though, our nation still suffers from slavery's emotional, social and political wounds.

Worse, the practice of slavery still exists. Indeed, it proliferates.

Yes, gone are the days of people being sold like animals on the streets. Instead, slavery today hides in the shadows. As you read this, more than 12 million people—many hidden in plain sight—are enslaved around the world. And even more repulsive: 1 million of these slaves are children.

It's 2012. How is slavery still possible? It's not on the news and we don't see it in our neighborhoods.

This $32 billion industry exists in 161 countries around the world, including the United States. Innocents are routinely trafficked into the United States. Some live in a community near you. In some countries, people are locked away in camps with armed guards and barbwire fences.

But look—12 million people are coerced, trafficked, and trapped. It's a $32 billion industry. What can you do? Realistically, what can one person do?

Ask one former slave.

You can make a difference.

Say a prayer and light a candle in our virtual chapel for the survivors of slavery and those still in slavery's grip.

Donate now to help end slavery.

Patrick Carney is a web producer, writer and editor for Catholic Relief Services. He is based at CRS headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland.

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