30 MILLION TO NONE - ENDING MODERN SLAVEY
BRAYDEN SHARP, 22, wants to abolish modern slavery. With an estimated over 30 million people world wide facing some form of slavery he's not facing an easy task. Yet as you read below you'll see that his ambition is matched only by his passion and determination. Perhaps with Brayden's help the modern slavery figure will go from "30 million to none"
TOM DUNN: How would you describe what you do with 30 million to none (30MTN) to a stranger?
BRAYDEN SHARP: 30 Million to None is an online platform that seeks to raise awareness and educate people on modern slavery. We regularly publish content on current issues of slavery in the modern world, as well as also pointing individuals to further sources of information regarding modern slavery.
TD: How did the idea for 30MTN first come to you?
BS: The idea came to me when I was volunteering in Nepal in April 2017. My volunteer work involved training human trafficking survivors to become paralegals, so that they may become an access point for justice in their community. During this time, I learnt a great deal about modern slavery and the people that it impacted, and I wanted to pass this knowledge onto others so that the western world could become aware of the severity of the problem. I was lucky enough to have a brother who dealt with designing websites at the time and I saw this as the perfect platform to raise awareness and educate. It was kind of a natural follow on from my volunteering, which has worked very well.
TD: Your experience in Nepal obviously affected you, but where did you find the drive to go a step further than most and create 30MTN?
BS: Nepal was definitely a big part of my drive to create 30 Million to None; having experienced first hand the scale of the problem I felt it was my duty to help out any way I could after I had left. It was also a personal thing after Nepal, as many of the girls that I worked with are now very good friends of mine and I’d never want them to be forced into that lifestyle again. Aside from that, I also believe that people will support a good cause by nature, as we have seen with the human rights movement and the equality movement over the past 20 or so years. I therefore knew that if I laid the foundations, others would help build the rest.
TD: You've put together a small team now for 30MTN. How did you convince others to join the cause?
BS: The first people I convinced to help were my brother, who I mentioned built the website, and my sister, who became our Social Media Manager, so they were rather easy to convince because they’re good people by nature and if they didn’t I’d tell Mum (haha). But no, once they heard about what I wanted to do they wanted to help out in any way they could, which is a testament to their generosity and kind nature. After that, we developed a small team of writers and they joined for much the same reason that my brother and sister did: they wanted to help fight a global problem.
I think in our line of work it has less to do with convincing people to join and more with finding the people who are willing to help. I initially had a team lined up to write from our very first day, which consisted of people I knew as good writers and good people, but they didn’t care for the cause and that really effected their willingness to produce quality content. I still love those people, but they weren’t the right fit for what I was going for, and we’ve really made that a priority when accepting new people to join the 30 Mil team: if you care enough, then you’ll make a valid contribution.
TD: So what exactly is slavery, and are there really 30million people affected by it in 2018?
BS: There are many forms of slavery in the world today, including human trafficking, forced labour (including forced prostitution), and forced marriage. It can get rather complicated in determining what is and isn’t slavery, but the best way to think about it is the unlawful depravation of the liberty of an individual through force, threat of force, or coercion. We go into more detailed definitions on our website in regards to each different form of slavery, so be sure to check that out.
Unfortunately, due to the nature and secrecy of the crime, we will never be able to put an accurate estimate on how many slaves there are today. When we began, 30 million was a conservative estimate I made after gathering information from the United Nations, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch—none of which could agree on a definitive number. Since then, the United Nations’ committee, Alliance 8.7, has estimated that there are as many as 40 million people in slavery, which really highlights the severity of the issue.
TD: Is slavery an underrated problem in the modern world?
BS: Definitely; as I mentioned, there are between 30 million and 40 million—maybe more—people trapped in slavery at any one time. The scholars and individuals that I’ve met with to discuss the issue all agree that it is one of the big three issues in the world today, with the other two being nuclear weapons and terrorism. While it has been gaining more attention as time goes on, there is still a long way to go before it is properly recognised by western society.
TD: Do you see a world in which slavery could really be fully abolished?
BS: I’m already seeing it; every day I see people helping fight the problem and making contributions, both big and small, to a world where slavery doesn’t exist. There is still a lot of work to do, but we’re heading towards that finish line sooner than people realise.
TD: Is slavery a problem that exists only away from Australian shores?
BS: Slavery in Australia isn’t a major direct issue, with only about 4300 people estimated to be in slavery at any one time (which of course should be 0). However, it does impact Australia in other ways, with many Australian companies having been found to be involved in operating sweat shops or sourcing materials from other companies that utilise sweat shops. The anti-slavery movement had a big win in regards to this problem this year in Australia, when the parliament ordered an inquiry into modern slavery. This inquiry should lead to the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act in 2018, which would prohibit the sourcing of materials known to be a product of slavery, as well as other strict new slavery laws. This goes to show how big the problem is, and how it can occur outside of plain sight.
TD: Your slogan is "Make Noise". Is this the only/best way for people to support 30MTN's cause?
BS: Making noise is the base level of involvement for any movement: if people know about the cause and discuss it with others it will gain support and momentum. From here, people feel inspired to volunteer, write to their member of parliament, protest, or take other actions to benefit the cause. Any of these actions support what we stand for, as long as they are peaceful and done with the right intent. But in as far as our goal is concerned, all we ask is for people to listen to the noise we make, and then repeat that noise to others.
TD: The work you and the team at 30MTN is done purely on volunteer basis. What's the greatest reward you could hope to see from your investment of time?
BS: The greatest reward we could ask for is for 30 Million to None to no longer exist, because if we don’t exist then that means that there is no problem anymore. Until that day comes, we’ll take pride in the little wins: every time we see the issue discussed in the news or a new piece of legislation introduced that addresses the matter is a win for us.
TD: What's the most exciting part of 30MTN you hope to see in the coming 12 months?
BS: We’re extremely excited for Make Noise Nepal, which I’m sure your audience is familiar with, and we can’t wait to see what becomes of that. In addition to that, we’ve got a few plans for the coming year which will help us make a bit more noise, the first of which will launch in March 2018, so keep an eye out for that.
TD: What advice do you have for a young Australian who wants to have an impact on a wide scale problem?
BS: Just go for it: if it is something you feel strongly about and you know it will help others in some way then don’t be afraid of failure or anything else. We’re lucky enough to live in a time where you can influence the whole world from your desk or mobile phone, so make sure you do all you can to help others. The world could always use more heroes.
Get in touch with Brayden Sharp:
Facebook - @30milliontonone
Instagram - @30milliontonone
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