If you Call and No One Answers26 Apr 2011, by modern day slavery in
“If you call and no one answers, go anyway” Ravindranath Tagore
While visiting tribal village prevention programs this past February, the volunteers also toured the town of Shantineketan, which is the birthplace of Ravindranath Tagore, renowned Bengali poet and advocate for social change.
Several of the volunteers commented on the fact that it is a refreshing change for them to be in the company of others who share their passion for fighting modern day slavery, and to be able to speak freely about all aspects of the issue. Back home, modern day slavery and human trafficking are often difficult topics for their friends to discuss. ‘It’s not exactly popular dinner conversation,’ the volunteers agree. As Becky Bavinger (former India Program Director) used to say, ‘talking about my work is a real game-killer!’
While the issue of modern day slavery has become more widely known over the past eight years since I became involved in this work, public awareness is still patchy and many, many people are flabbergasted when they hear that modern day slavery is such a large problem. Media coverage of the issue has thankfully increased, but often the coverage focuses on one tragic situation –for example, child sex trafficking in Cambodia - without offering the context of slavery as a worldwide issue affecting 30 million men, women and children in every country of the world.
If you are reading this blog, you have already stepped off the beaten path of societal indifference and tolerance of the absolute evil of slavery. At the very least, you want to learn more about modern day slavery. Perhaps you would go so far as to call yourself a modern day abolitionist. I hope you will decide to go all in, because we need more hands on deck to end slavery once and for all. If you do, I warn you that it may at times be a lonely road. Many people will not know that modern day slavery exists at all. Others will be paralyzed by the enormity of the problem, or repelled by the horror of it, especially child sex slavery. Some will be too busy to care, or will distance themselves from the problem because they mistakenly think it only happens in other countries.
But as Tagore wrote, ‘if you call and no one answers, go anyway’. Once you start walking, people will be inspired by your example and join you, and you will gradually find others already on the path. We are everywhere, steadily gaining in strength and unity. In India for example, there are thousands of people from all walks of life using their lives to help others gain freedom. Some are survivors themselves. In every major city of America, groups are forming to combat slavery – churches and colleges, high school kids and women’s clubs, lawyers, survivors, mothers, artists, businesspeople. And you. Thank you for every step you take to end modern day slavery.