Expect to see your Facebook and Instagram feeds taken over by red Xs today. If past years are any indication, members of Congress and celebrities are likely to take to social media with red Xs drawn on their hands, to raise awareness for the End It Movement's "Shine A Light On Slavery" Day. Last year, Carrie Underwood, Ashton Kutcher, and Kristen Bell were among the A-Listers who took part.
The day, which raises awareness about modern-day slavery and human trafficking, has taken place for the last six years. Three years ago, Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, introduced official legislation to address the issue with the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act. He cited a chilling statistic: "More than 27 million people, many of them women and children, suffer under forced labor and sexual servitude in over 165 countries around the world, including our own,” According to Corker, that figure is higher than at any other time in the world's history.
At this time last year, the End Modern Slavery hearing was held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and included a moving testimony from Kutcher, himself an anti-trafficking activist.
You don't have to be in Washington to take part in today's campaign. Go to the website for the End It awareness campaign, where you'll find downloadable resources, including red Xs that you can upload to your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter profiles. You can also take a tube of red lipstick, mark an X on your hand, and snap a photo to post. The day's official hashtags, which will likely start trending on Twitter, include #EndSlaveryAct and #EndItMovement.
You can also sign up to be a digital defender against child sexual exploitation, volunteer with anti-trafficking groups, and donate to the End It Movement.
Mass profile photo changes aren't the solution to the problem, but they are an important and powerful way of showing solidarity and raising awareness.
This piece was originally published on February 22, 2017.