When I hear the word 'slavery' I think of history. The past. Something that used to happen. A long time ago.
Until my eyes became open to the modern day slavery crisis. There are more people in slavery today than at any other point in history...including the 300 years of trans-Atlantic slave trading from Africa.
Let's talk about Human Trafficking.
As we move on, this information might make you cry. It might make you angry. It might disturb or disgust you. I will not apologize. We are talking about real human lives. This is reality.
What does human trafficking look like? Well, it looks a whole lot like slavery. Because many people who read this blog are familiar with Ukraine, I'll start there. In a typical orphanage, children age-out when they turn 16. Because they have no parents or family to claim them, they are homeless. They are released from the orphanage with the clothes on their back, and maybe a small amount of money. They have no job training. They have no life skills. They are completely helpless.
And just outside the orphanage gates, monsters are waiting for them. Monsters who are trained in deception and manipulation. Traffickers.
These traffickers usually have someone working for them inside the orphanage. Did you read that? Read it again. Traffickers usually have someone working for them INSIDE the orphanage. It's usually a director or staff member who might get a financial kick-back from the trafficker. This person will supply the trafficker with a list of the children who are about to age-out. Before these kids are even released, the traffickers are already preying on them. The traffickers sometimes promise a 'new life' in an exotic country, and employment as a waitress or some other job. Without knowing it, these kids fall into a trap. They agree to becoming modern day slaves, without even realizing their fate.
So once these kids are taken by the traffickers, they generally are taken out of their country of origin. When they arrive in their destination country they are immediately put to work, usually working as prostitutes. No - prostitute is not the right word. Sex slaves. That's more accurate.
Where are these kids trafficked to? Belgium, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States are countries ranked 'very high' as destination countries of trafficked people. Yes, the United States is a common destination country. In fact, the United States is the second highest destination area in the world for trafficked women. Does that astound you? It should.
This is an octopus of a problem with tentacles all over the world. No country is untouched. Not even America.
Human trafficking has recently exploded, and has almost caught up with drug trafficking, as traffickers have realized something horrifying. Humans are reusable. Drugs are not. Humans can be re-sold over, & over, & over. Drugs cannot. Clearly, traffickers are realizing that selling humans is much more profitable. The average price of an individual slave is $90. And last year, the slave industry made more money than Google, Nike, and Starbucks - COMBINED. Almost not believable.
This is not someone else's problem. This is OUR problem. Sex trafficking cases have been reported in all 50 states and in more than 90 cities across the country. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that there are 200,000 slaves.
Two hundred-thousand slaves in America. Land of the...free?
"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do..."
Now, you know. And so you have a responsibility. Here's what you can do.
Pray for those already enslaved, and those who are about to age out. Pray for nations to rise up against traffickers. Pray for traffickers to fall on their knees before a Holy God. Just Pray.
+SPREAD THE WORD.
Memorize a few statistics. Become familiar with the facts. And share them with your friends. Be prepared to educate people.
Give to causes that you KNOW are fighting human trafficking. Here are some GREAT organizations.
International Justice Mission
Truckers Against Trafficking - LOVE the work this organization does. They donate FREE materials and information to trucking companies. The truckers can clip a card to their visor which lists all the red flags, and has an 800 number to call. Between 2003 and 2009 there were over five hundred arrests of underage trafficking victims - ALL called in by truckers!
Tell your politicians that they have the ability to stand up and do something about the human trafficking crisis.
Put together a 5k run/walk. Host a neighborhood rummage sale. Whatever your 'thing' is - do that. These organizations rely on donations, and cannot do what they do without some financial backing.
When human trafficking issues come up, vote.
High-risk kids who are sponsored through organizations like Compassion, International are much more likely to escape the grips of traffickers than those who are not sponsored.
Find a local organization and offer to volunteer. Hand out brochures. Hold signs. Whatever it takes. Do whatever you can to get the word out.
So - now you know. Slavery is real. It's everywhere. Even here.
Do something about it.
One Thing I Know For Sure: "You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know." - William Wilberforce (Abolitionist, 1759-1833)
+++++ Like what you read here? Read my follow-up post here.