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Opinion/Letter: Prioritize the fight against human trafficking

Opinion/Letter: Prioritize the fight against human trafficking

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Intentionally setting priorities is difficult. Yet we all need to. And we do it whether we realize it or not. Our priorities are found in what we do, not what we say.

Statues may be fine topics for political scorecards; reparations for past wrongs, an interesting debate topic. But I think another issue trumps these by far: modern-day slavery.

An estimated 403,000-plus Americans and foreigners are being trafficked in our “land of the free and home of the brave,” predominately for work and for sex: children, women, men.

Slavery — here, now — in our country is thriving. And it’s at an all-time high worldwide.

Why isn’t this at the top of our agenda? Several reasons, I think.

One, invisibility. By its nature and because of its illegality, human trafficking runs underground. It’s difficult to notice.

However, many cases are not invisible. We are simply blind. The enslaved work on our roofs, in our schools, at our nursing homes. Good news: This blindness is curable.

Among the warning sign of human trafficking: malnourishment, few belongings, sleeping at worksites, and other deprivations.

Two, our failure to pay attention. The topic of human trafficking isn’t “popular.” But to me, it’s vastly more important than the issues de jour of our current cultural maelstrom.

What can we do? Reprioritize. Lobby; protest; write and call out, for those who cannot. Give to appropriate non-profits.

This makes combatting human trafficking a priority. Our priority.

If you suspect someone is enslaved, it only requires a phone call to alert someone at the National Human Trafficking Hotline (888-373-7888). It is better to be wrong 100 times than right once and not call.

America could be the leader in ridding illegal slavery from among us. And we could again export liberation, as we once did. Then, 250 years from now, we won’t be having exhausting debates over what should we have done.

However, it must be a priority. The priority. Our priority.

Doug Woodside

Albemarle County

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