A preface to this post: I’m very passionate about fighting to end human trafficking, but I want to say, none of this is meant to condemn anyone, it’s meant to share what’s really going on. If you have any questions about how to get involved, please reach out and get involved with an organization working to fight human trafficking (such as End It, A Face to Reframe, International Justice Mission, etc.). And, if it seems like I get a little bit excited, it’s because this is so very significant in our world today. This is so, so important – we play a role in making this end – I hope you are able to learn more through this post!
In the spirit of today – Human Trafficking Awareness Day – I want to take a moment to talk about our society’s relationship with it.
First, a definition – human trafficking is, to put it simply, the name for slavery today – it is found in two forms: forced labor and sex.
I know, I know – this is heavy stuff. But, it’s insanely important because over 40 million people are enslaved worldwide.
But here’s another figure, “According to a recent International Labor Organization (ILO) report, there are 115 million child laborers worldwide who are working on conditions hazardous to their health,” (Walts, 2011). So, not only are there 40 million slaves, there are millions more child laborers, which, though there could be some very minimal amount of payment involved, is completely unacceptable and could also be considered slavery. And, to give you a more specific idea of how “popular” slavery is worldwide, one in every one hundred people in India are in some kind of enslavement. That is a very, very large number of people to be enslaved in just one country. And we’re not talking about this more?
We were all told “slavery was eradicated” in school – it’s something that’s been over for quite some time, but that is so, so very incorrect. Legal slavery was eradicated, but illegal buying and selling of people continues to today. There are more slaves in the world today than there have ever been between all other time periods before this. That is completely insane.
We don’t talk about this atrocious violation against people as much as we should – it’s so relevant and unfortunately common. To quote Baylee Molloy (2016), “…[human trafficking offers] high profits, low risk… Paired with little risk of criminal prosecution, this makes human trafficking a lucrative business to enter.” Human trafficking is considered to be a LOW RISK INDUSTRY for people to participate in. Low risk. PEOPLE ARE SELLING OTHER PEOPLE AND IT IS CONSIDERED LOW RISK. Are you serious? That’s completely ridiculous.
And here’s something to add to that ridiculousness – See, it’s not just a low risk business overseas, it’s low risk in the United States, and not just big cities – in every city. Did you know sex slavery is actually a pretty big problem in the Treasure Valley? The most common form of this in the Valley is guardians selling their own children for sex with other people.
I’m sorry – that’s disgusting. And it’s happening in our own backyards. It’s literally happening around us every day.
So what if we started making it high risk for traffickers to be in the industry? “When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.” (Proverbs 21:15) Let’s start letting terror overtake the evildoers – let’s see darkness tremble. Let’s get on our knees and pray, pull out our wallets and give, and get on the plane and go! God is calling us to move – do justice!
At this point, since the industry of human trafficking has done such a good job keeping itself hidden from the public eye (but exposing itself to the right people), human trafficking has gained a huge platform for making billions upon billions of dollars annually. In fact, “human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide,” (The Polaris Project, 2016). There is no end to the amount of grief human trafficking has caused everyone – from an international to personal level because of elements such as economic dysfunction and kidnappings – it’s effect and control in our society today is astounding. Trafficking has caused paramount levels of corruption, fear, and blemishes in every part of the world.
Now, as someone who advocates for the importance of freedom for people everywhere, especially from the bondage of slavery, I’m in awe of how little people know about it. I’m convinced that one of the greatest tools human trafficking has at its disposal is how hush hush and taboo it is.
But it’s the ultimate injustice – the greatest violation of a person’s rights and innocence. A member in our community fighting against this practice is Jeannie Strohmeyer (with the Nampa Family Justice Center) who said the following, “They (traffickers) are looking for very particular types of victims. Maybe people who have been abused or are looking for love.”
Okay – guys – this is so serious. Human trafficking takes advantage of the vulnerable. Did you know 28% of people are vulnerable to trafficking? (GSI) And as widespread as it is, with all the activists fighting for equality worldwide, somehow, it’s a secret thing to many. Or maybe, maybe, we’re just really ignorant – we don’t really want to address it, so we avoid this daunting issue instead. Because working to make it stop is really uncomfortable.
Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these… you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) But instead of loving the least of these like we’re called to do, the demand that we as a society have created has persisted their suffering.
The world is held captive by the crime of human trafficking, secretly, its talons have wrapped around the innocent and vulnerable, leaving our society besieged with the disgusting results of damage done by pimps and traffickers all over the world. We’ve left the vulnerable unprotected, the hurting helpless, and the broken discarded because we have created a society unable to cope with these crimes against humanity.
Rape is a big problem, and some people held in captivity by traffickers are raped 30 times a day. Are you serious? I mean, what the actual heck? This is a thing, that is happening, every day, and the public doesn’t know it’s happening. There are millions of people being subjected to this, and an unfortunate number of people don’t know about it or it makes them uncomfortable, so people don’t do anything. Um, HELLO! I’m thinking it’s a lot more uncomfortable to be in slavery than it is for us give money to organizations like IJM, End It, or A Face to Reframe, to take a couple weeks out of our lives to go on a mission trip that focuses its efforts on helping people understand the truth and actively participate in bringing freedom to victims of slavery, to pray. We have the most powerful tool at our hands – the God of the universe – always speaking, always moving, always listening, and we can’t even take five seconds out of our days to intercede for people suffering things that are unimaginably destructive?
WE ASK WHY GOD WOULD LET SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPEN – HOW SOMETHING LIKE THIS COULD EVER BE DONE – AND WE ARE DOING NOTHING TO STOP IT.
We aren’t doing anything.
And, here’s something, a large percentage of porn comes from human trafficking victims.
Porn literally causes exploitation of human beings. It’s not just porn stars or willing actors – people are being forced, not only into prostitution, but into porn. How much do you think the porn industry would change if people knew that? People are working to decrease the demand because decreasing the demand of porn decreases human trafficking.
And, you know what else persists human trafficking? A LOT of the clothes we buy. Check the tag on what you’re wearing right now because it was probably made by a child enslaved in China… and this is where I stop myself because now I feel convicted because I’m not just talking to you, I’m talking to me too. See, I don’t think I’ve really grasped the magnitude of his issue because I don’t check tags and brands every time I shop – we say we’re uncomfortable with child labor and trafficking, but yet we’ll turn the other cheek for those Nike’s or that really cute dress. That’s really pathetic. We’re pathetic because we value a cheap dress over the life of a child.
I’m frustrated by how easy it is for me to ignore where my clothes came from because I’ve put a trafficking face to Nike, but not to so many other brands. How about Nestle, H&M, Victoria Secret, Apple… I will probably shop all of these brands multiple times in the next year, and still advocate for human rights because I literally forget that they use slave labor. How do you forget that kind of thing?
Our culture is completely blind to what’s going on behind other borders, behind shop doors, behind closed homes, next door.
But I’m not surprised by it. Because we often look back on how society used to be and think we’ve come so far. We look at the Romans and think we’ve really made it because we’re not into gladiators and lions mauling people but we’re in the midst of a huge genocide of babies – and we think we’ve come far? The world is completely destroying so many important things, and we’ve thrown sex, childhood, innocence, and the list goes on, into the mix of things we’re allowing to be taken away.
At the end of the day, we’re in a battle. We’re in a battle against the horrible injustices of the world. And we have a part to play – let’s work together to stop the demand; the demand of forced labor, child labor, pornography, prostitutes.
“So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.” (Hosea 12:6)