Red Xs Shine A Spotlight On Modern-Day Slavery In This Social Media Campaign

Don't just scroll past.

If you've seen Red Xs all over your social media feeds on Thursday and weren't sure what they were about — well, it's an online campaign that you shouldn't just scroll past. Feb. 23 is "Shine A Light On Slavery" Day, a day intended to raise awareness about modern-day slavery and human trafficking that was conceived by END IT Movement, a coalition of anti-trafficking organizations. 

Congress members, celebrities, and many social media users participated in the campaign by drawing red Xs on their hands and calling for an end to the human trafficking and slavery with the hashtag #EndItMovement.

Leading the charge in Congress is Sen. Bob Corker, who introduced the bipartisan End Modern Slavery Initiative legislation two years ago. Last week, Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, held a hearing on the efforts to end modern slavery, where Elisa Massimino of Human Rights First and Ashton Kutcher, co-founder of Thorn, an organization battling cyber exploitation and child slavery, testified. 

At Congress, Kutcher spoke of the horrors he's seen in his work with Thorn. Parts of his testimony went viral, leading to a heightened interest in the issue. (A Plus, which Kutcher also founded, covered the hearing as well.)

"I've seen video content of a child that's the same age as mine being raped by an American man [who] was a sex tourist in Cambodia. This child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play," Kutcher said in his testimony. "I've been on the other end of a phone call from my team asking for my help because we had received a call from the Department of Homeland Security telling us that a 7-year-old was being sexually abused and that content was being spread around the dark web. She had been abused and they'd watched her for three years, and they could not find the perpetrator — asking us for help. We were the last line of defense: an actor and his foundation were the last line of defense."

Sarah Potts of Thorn told A Plus that "Shine A Light On Slavery" Day is a significant awareness event for the cause. "If people aren't aware of the scope of the problem, or its impacts on our communities at home and abroad, they can't commit to being a part of the solution," she said. 

There are an estimated 27 million people across the world who are victims of modern-day slavery, according to END IT Movement — that's more than any other time in history. Nearly one in five of them is a child, and more than half are women and children. 

For Thorn and other such organizations fighting exploitation and trafficking, having an army of advocates from different backgrounds and industries is crucial, Potts said. She added: "We must expand our communities, and improve the collaboration between individuals, non-profits, government and private companies to create a holistic, committed and long-term solution to human trafficking." 

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