On 19 October 2019, the A21 Campaign conducted its 6th annual Walk for Freedom across five hundred cities and fifty countries in solidarity against modern, 21st-century slavery. This silent, single-file walk was the largest documented Walk for Freedom in the organisation’s history.
The walks across the globe were timed to have a walk begin every three minutes somewhere in the fifty countries participating. According to A-Team Pretoria, who works as one of the numerous A-teams who operate under A21, there were 12 walks scheduled to take place in South Africa alone. In Pretoria, the A21 walk route totalled 5 km and started and ended at Hatfield Christian Church. The more than two hundred participants were clad in black and t-shirts with the words “Abolish slavery with every step” or all-black attire.
The A21 Campaign was founded by evangelists and motivational speakers, Nick and Christine Caine. This nonprofit organization aims to combat human trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude, child soldiery and bonded labour by partnering with NGOs, law enforcement and businesses worldwide. The organisation operates in 12 counties and 14 different locations across the world. Their goal is to achieve freedom for every human being on the planet.
“Abolish slavery with every step”
With the aid of volunteers and freedom walks like Walk for Freedom, the organisation generates global awareness of men, women and children who continue to be trapped in modern-day slavery. According to Christine Caine, “when a lot of people do a little, it adds up and makes a difference”. Through these awareness campaigns, A21 encourages everyday citizens to participate in the fight against modern-day slavery and human trafficking.
A21’s campaign aims to equip ordinary citizens with the right mindset in order to identify signs of human trafficking and stop it in its infancy, as many victims of human trafficking interact with members of the public at places such as public transport. According to A21, the following signs are indicators of human trafficking victims: being controlled by another individual (they do not speak on their own will), signs of physical abuse, fearful or submissive behavior, lack of trust (they are wary of those who offer them help), lack of official identification and lack of personal belongings.
According to A21 global statistics, the average age of trafficked victims is 15 with 70% of these victims being women. The victims originate from 116 countries, with the top 3 being Albania, the United Kingdom and Vietnam. In Africa, 2 in 1000 individuals are victims of modern-day slavery and 1 in 7 children who run away, end up in sex trafficking rings around the world.
“when a lot of people do a little, it adds up and makes a difference”
The organisation’s modus operandi is centred on reach, rescue and restore. Reach involves creating awareness about human trafficking and modern-day slavery, rescue focusses on helping victims through identification and legal representation and restore on helping survivors through individualised care.
According to A21, the human trafficking industry equates to $150 billion globally and only 1% of victims are ever rescued. The organisation’s aim is to bring to light the human element behind the daunting statistics. Their focus resides in the one woman, man or child behind the numbers and A21 and the A-Teams who operate under A21 fight to restore their freedom. As stated in their vision, just like a number can turn into a name, a tragedy can turn into a victory, and belief into action.
As of the 2018 annual freedom report, A21 has received over 10 000 calls on their 3 national hotlines, identified and assisted 300 victims, won 28 court cases – of which 38 traffickers were sentenced – and welcomed 182 survivors into their care. A21 continues to be an influential movement gaining momentum across the global sphere. With the aid of ordinary citizens through walks like Walk for Freedom, the organisation hopes to put a stop to “human beings devalued by human greed”.