On February 5, the MLB and MLB Players Association announced a coordinated effort to fight against global human trafficking. The organizations are pledging a combined $500,000 through 2021 to global nonprofit partners that utilize education and programming to prevent labor exploitation, sexual slavery and other forms of human trafficking.
The MLB and MLBPA will direct a portion of its funds to Strike Out Slavery, an organization established in 2017 by three-time National League MVP and 10-time All-Star Albert Pujols and his wife, Deidre. The organization promotes awareness about modern-day slavery and the dangers of global human trafficking by raising funds for survivors and hosting events at baseball stadiums around the U.S.
"Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world with millions of people affected by it, even young children," stated Albert and Deidre Pujols. "United by our love for baseball, we can come together to create awareness in our communities about the dangers of this insidious crime."
Reports from Global Slavery Index found that in 2016, more than 40 million people from 167 countries — including men, women and children — were forced into labor or commercial sexual exploitation, with females representing 71 percent of victims.
Albert and Deidre Pujols will join other MLB players, human trafficking experts and MLB and MLBPA representatives over the next three years as members of a special council that will determine recipients of the funds.
"Human trafficking is a devastating reality for far too many individuals and families around the world," Commissioner Rob Manfred stated. "Major League Baseball is proud to join players, many of whom have already demonstrated their commitment to this cause, to use our sport's global platform to raise critical awareness of this worldwide issue."
Other MLB players lending their support to end human trafficking through this initiative and their own campaigns include retired San Francisco Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt, Detroit Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd and Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star pitcher Clayton Kershaw.
On March 1, the UN Women for Peace Association, Inc. will honor Albert and Deidre Pujols for their humanitarian work during the association’s 2019 Annual Awards Luncheon at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.