My name is Chanelle Holder and I am the founder and CEO of Maturing Mama Magazine. I was first introduced to International Justice Mission at my local church in Vancouver. I was shocked by the reality that slavery did not end with my ancestors- it is still present and happening today.
There are those that are actively involved in ending modern day slavery. They risk their lives to bring freedom to those enslaved. One such person is a Mama just like us. I hope you will take a moment to read Anu’s story of her involvement in International Justice Mission.
Anu and her husband Sachin have twin daughters, Tamara and Ila. She moved to Canada to take on a new role as the CEO with International Justice Mission Canada when she was 8 months pregnant. Three relocations and two babies in a new country and new culture. She joins us now to talk about motherhood and human trafficking. A lawyer by training and a graduate in business and leadership; this mama loves justice, gardening, cooking, empowerment, and her family.
1. What is International Justice Mission and why does it need the attention of Mamas and their families?
IJM strengthens justice systems to enforce the law, which deters criminals and protects people from violence. We strengthen justice systems by offering training for government officials combating slavery, equipping them to respond to cases sensitively and proactively. Together, we design improvements that serve survivors and deter other potential traffickers.
We rescue and restore victims by identifying brothels, homes, factories, fishing boats, and farms where people are trafficked. We partner with local police to conduct rescue operations. We then walk with survivors on the path to restoration, developing care plans focusing on physical health, trauma counselling and economic self-sufficiency.
IJM brings criminals to justice by working alongside justice system officials to build strong cases against traffickers and hold them accountable under local laws. We aid public prosecutors by collecting evidence and researching legal precedents. We scale demand for protection by convening and equipping champions. Grassroots community leaders and survivors of trafficking to global corporations and development institutions—to call on governments to protect people from slavery.
The work that we do needs the attention of mamas and their families because global estimates state that women and girls account for 71% of victims of modern slavery. Research from UN Women shows globally, violence against women disproportionately affects low- and lower-middle-income countries and regions, which are the places where IJM works.
We’ve seen increases in online sexual exploitation of children. As we talk now, 750,000 predators are waiting to prey on vulnerable children in light of poverty and lack of support. Calls to helplines have increased five-fold in some countries. Other countries, however, have observed a decrease in the number of domestic violence incidents reported, highlighting accessibility and availability challenges during lockdowns and other social distancing measures.
I believe the mamas reading right now will care because motherhood is not exclusive to only our children. Women are natural collaborators and natural partners. Empowering a woman is infectious. What she experiences, she wants everyone else to experience. Freedom? She wants everyone to have it. Joy? She wants to spread it and multiply it. The youngest child we have rescued from online sexual exploitation was 2 months old. When women suffer, when moms suffer, communities suffer. The disproportionate violence against women and children is one of the most significant challenges that IJM is facing and therefore tackling.
2. What would many be surprised to know about modern day slavery?
Most people would be surprised to know that over 40.3 million people are enslaved right now.
3. What’s your role at International Justice Mission?
I have the honour of serving as the CEO of IJM Canada and leading an incredible team of people! In my 11 years at IJM, I have had the opportunity to work in various roles at the organization. I initiated and led IJM’s first partnership program. I oversaw the training of more than 17,000 police officers, government officials, and NGO’s on the rescue and rehabilitation of individuals trapped in slavery and bringing criminals to justice. I’ve been a part of 10,000 individuals being rescued from forced labour slavery.
4. What was it that made you interested in fighting for the justice of others? Was there a defining moment?
It was my personal experience with violence that revealed a world I never knew existed. For the longest time, I felt I had to show up because I did not have anyone show up for me.
A decade ago, when I was introduced to the work of IJM, it just broke my heart in a way that I cannot quite articulate. What drew me closer to those that were suffering in trafficking, was their inability to draw close to hope. So, it just felt like a natural response that a survivor of violence would have. For me, to invite them to a space where I experienced hope. What keeps me excited about doing this work is to see people, once victims of sex trafficking, walk into those very same brothels and tell others who are still victims that there exists hope and that she, is evidence.
What brought me in, is the above, what keeps me here are these stories of hope. We tend to confuse the darkness of this work with a space we may want to avoid journeying into, but a decade after doing this I would be lying if I say that the light does not overcome the darkness.
5. Many Mamas would feel this mission is too big for them but in what small ways do you believe they can give this mission their full support to help end modern day slavery?
I believe that Mama’s have already done the hardest thing on the planet, ‘being a Mama’. Protecting the vulnerable is instinctive and intuitive for a mother. What we want for our children-we seek for others too. A simple way to come forward to this space is multifold:
Become a freedom partner – Mama’s can show up month after month by supporting with a gift that enables resources that are needed in the field that makes rescues possible.
Become a Freedom Partner (ijm.ca)
Host rescue parties- Get Mama’s together to build awareness around the issue and raising enough support to enable a rescue operation that can free many vulnerable children.
Continue researching modern day slavery and build momentum on social media so that you can help enable a movement in Canada that can mortally wound the giant of slavery.