It was in the year 2011 while she was documenting human trafficking as part of an assignment for the US State Department; Kay Chernush came up with the idea of Artworks For Freedom. The sole purpose of which was to raise awareness about human trafficking through art. Being a world-renowned photographer who had travelled the length and breadth of the world, she knew first hand about the severity of trafficking.

Kay Chernush. Image courtesy of Smith

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “Human Trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit.” The victims of trafficking are often lured with a promise of a job or money. Trafficking is not only limited to developing or underdeveloped countries but is prevalent in developed countries like Canada and the United States.

Artworks For Freedom is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. The main reason they exist is to show light about modern slavery and human trafficking through various forms of artwork. They also coordinate with many other artists and artworks with the theme surrounding trafficking.

One of the noted collaborations was with Molly Gochman and her Red Sand Project. The artist started a movement by filling cracks on the sidewalks with bright red sand. The cracks define the marginalized people that are often ignored and are entrapped in exploitation. The red sand is a symbolic representation to not avoid these people, but to help them.

Red Sand Project by Molly Gochman. Video courtesy of Vimeo.

Artworks for Freedom also embraces bringing new faces and new ideas. One such example is their paid internship programs for graduate students. The interns will get a chance to work with some of the leading artists in order to fuel their creativity. They might be able to showcase their own work as well.

India, Germany, Singapore, Cambodia and Netherlands are some other countries where Artworks for Freedom has organized campaigns. Being aware that you or someone you know is being trafficked is the first step in order to prevent it. The United Nations has prepared a list of indicators that helps in identifying if someone is being trafficked.

A story in your eyes by Jakayla Toney. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Human trafficking is a crime that often goes undetected and in order to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, this violation has to end. Show your support for organizations like Artworks for Freedom in order to make the public aware about human trafficking that lurks among us.

To learn more about the issue of human trafficking, check out this video.

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