Sunday, February 3, 2013

Human Trafficking

I went to a . . . something last week. I don’t know what to call it; it wasn’t really a conference, or a symposium, or a seminar. It was more of a gathering, or maybe a screening because most of the time was spent watching a documentary. The night revolved around the issue of human trafficking around the world and in the U.S. The movie was called Nefarious: Merchant of Souls and it bowled me over.

The movie was, essentially, a series of interviews with several professionals and activists who work in this area along with several people who had been victims of sexual slavery or who had participated in human trafficking. It was gut-wrenching. One woman was lured into prostitution by her “boyfriend” and soon found that she had spiraled down into a life she couldn’t escape from; another was lured away from home by the promise of a job as a sales girl in a department store only to find herself in a foreign country where she didn’t know the language and was beaten into submission by her captors. Another woman was molested as a child and grew up under the impression that she was worthless and undeserving of any other life. Another segment told the story of young girls in South-East Asia who are sold into prostitution by their parents. It was person after person after person talking about the reality of what is going on in the world.

When I got home I did some more research and found the story of a young woman in Florida who was befriended by another young lady at school. After a few months this new friend invited her to a sleep-over. Turns out that this new “friend” was really an accomplice (read fellow victim) of a human trafficker. The young woman was drugged, beaten and raped repeatedly over three days. Her story can be found, in detail, here

I’m not bringing this up to be depressing; I’m talking about this because it is real and it is happening right now to millions of women, girls, men and boys around the world. According to ExodusCry, there are an estimated 4.5 million people in sexual slavery around the world; there are 800,000 people trafficked across international borders, 79% of whom are used for commercial sexual exploitation. In the U.S. alone there are an estimated 100,000 children who are victims of sex trafficking each year.

We need to talk about this; we need to do something about this.

There are many organizations around the nation and around the globe that are involved in this fight. I would encourage you to find one. Here are some organizations that I know of that you can get involved with:
Veronica's Voice: a shelter in the KC metro area that helps women who are trying to get out of a life of prostitution. This is not a religious organization.
We Love Children: an organization that focuses on helping young girls at risk of sexual exploitation in Cambodia and Vietnam.
ExodusCry: a movement which works to prevent human trafficking, intervene where it is occuring, and holistically restore victims of human trafficking. It is an explicitly Christian organization.

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