Rowing across the Atlantic to end slavery

Slavery is not dead.

There are millions of men, women, and children forced into physical and sexual labor around the world, but the problem is often drowned out by other headlines.

In order to bring attention to the modern slave trade, a team of ten athletes is Rowing Against Slavery across the Atlantic Ocean. They’ll be stuck in a small boat for weeks, each one rowing two hours and taking two hours off as other team members take the oars, nonstop until they make the entire 3,000 mile journey.

The team hopes to beat the previous world record for rowing across the Atlantic, which is 33 days, but more importantly they will be raising awareness for an often hidden crime.

There are some grim facts and figures on their website, and more on the website of Anti-Slavery International, which was founded back in 1839 but still finds itself fighting a global problem.

It’s noticeable that both sites use the term “slavery” instead of “human trafficking”, which technically only refers to slaves who are moved from one place to another through force or deception. Instead they call slavery what it is. There appears to be a trend in the media of using the nastier-sounding term “slavery” when referring to slaves in Africa or Asia, and “human trafficking” when referring to slaves in the U.S. or Europe.

Slaves in U.S. and Europe? Yes. Many women and children are forced into prostitution in the developed world and there’s no shortage of child workers, like the blueberry farm in Michigan that ABC News found was using children as young as five. Kids as young as twelve are allowed to work legally on U.S. farms. Child labor is often considered slavery because the children have no choice about working, and are often denied access to education and are subject to sexual exploitation.

To follow the team’s adventure across the Atlantic, check out their blog. There’s a donate button if you want to help the effort to free the slaves. In the land of the free, what could be a better cause?