Before the Civil War, the average cost of a slave was about the equivalent of $40,000 in today’s currency. Today, a person can be purchased for about $90. And the number of slaves in our world today is much higher than it was at the height of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade years ago. Something must be done to change this dark reality.
In Proverbs 31:8-9, we are told to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”
This means speaking up for and helping those caught in human trafficking. As we finish our focus on human trafficking this month, we wanted to leave you with a ways you can do just that. We urge you to do something! If every Texas Baptists got involved with the issue and did something, we could significantly injure the human trafficking market in our state and help set the captives bound by this industry free.
Here are few ways to get involved:
- Continue becoming informed and learning about human trafficking around the world. Visit the resource blog for suggestions on documentaries, books and other information resources.
- Set up a Google Alert with key words for trafficking so that you get the most up-to-date information.
- Learn to identify the red flags of human trafficking so that you can report a situation to local authorities when you notice one. To learn the signs and symptoms of trafficking, visit the Opening Doors project.
- Pray for those trafficked in Texas and for the Christians and ministries diligently working to put an end to this atrocity. To learn ways to pray and to download prayer guides, visit the trafficking prayer blog.
- Join the Christian Life Commission, the public policy arm of Texas Baptists, in speaking up for the issue at the Texas Capitol. Find out who represents you in state government and make an appointment to speak with these people or write a letter to them so that you can share why fighting human trafficking on a state level is so important. Use your voice and the knowledge you have about human trafficking to make a difference.
- Examine your buying habits. Often we play into the trafficking chain without even knowing it because of the products we buy. Find out more at Slavery Footprint.org.
- Download the Free2Work app for iPhone or Android to the scan barcodes of your favorite products, learning about how the producing company could be related to trafficking.
- View the public awareness kit from the National Trafficking Resource Center. Print the fliers with the hotline number and stop at convenient stores along major highways in Texas, asking to place the fliers in the stores. Also, keep the hotline number in your phone in case you report trafficking activity – 888-3737-888.
- Help your students stay safe. Teach the students at your church about the traps of traffickers. Traffick911 hosts meetings and conferences to help you address this issue.
- Connect with Texas ministries fighting human trafficking and providing care for victims and get involved. Find a ministry near you through Freedom Ring.
- Host a human trafficking awareness day at your church. Show documentaries, give away prayer guides and host a fair trade shopping market.
Be creative with the ways you get involved, and dream big. If you are willing to speak up for those who do not have a voice and help educate your friends, family and church about what is going on with trafficking, God can use you in incredible ways in the fight to end human trafficking in Texas and around the world.
The Dallas Morning News carried an excellent opinion piece in its Feb. 23 edition about children and prostitution. The article, by Malika Saada Saar, expresses a broad national perspective. In Texas, we are actually doing better than reflected in Saar’s article, but we still have lots of work to do.
Saar points out that about 293,000 U.S. children are “at risk of being exploited and trafficked for sex, according to a 2011 FBI report on trafficking. Most are girls ages 12 to 14. They often are abducted or lured by pimps and traffickers, beaten into submission and sometimes even branded with the pimp’s name.” She tells of one 15-year-old girl being abducted on her way home from school.
The trafficking of children is a deep tragedy in and of itself, but a secondary tragedy occurs when the justice system treats them like criminals (prostitutes) instead of victims. This secondary problem can be attributed to inadequate laws, uninformed officers, and the lack of places for trafficking victims to be sent for protection.
In Texas, we have made some genuine, bi-partisan progress in changing laws regarding child prostitution, and the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission has been a critical advocate in making these changes. In the 2013 session, the legislature made the following changes:
HB 2268 (John Frullo) and SB 1052 ( John Carona) streamlined the investigations of Texas law enforcement officers into aspects of human trafficking taking place on the Internet.
SB 92 (Leticia Van de Putte) created a diversion court program for victims of human trafficking. In particular, the bill helps recognize victims of human trafficking as victims, not criminals, particularly in situations involving allegations of prostitution (many victims are minors and cannot legally consent to sex—this bill treats them accordingly). This addressed a key aspect of Saar’s article.
HB 2725 ( Senfronia Thompson) created parameters to help ensure the confidentiality of human trafficking shelters and their occupants.
Two years earlier, in 2011, the following bills also helped shore up the Texas fight against human trafficking:
HB 2015 (Thompson and Van de Putte) added minor prostitution to the list offenses eligible for “child in need of supervision.” This addressed one of the legal shortcomings cited in Saar’s article.
SB 24 (Van de Putte and Thompson) mandated urgent recommendations from the Attorney General’s 2011 report that added human trafficking to lists of crimes in the penal code, government code, and family code, code of criminal procedure, and civil practice and remedies code. The bill also addresses important victim protections.
HB 289 (Jim Jackson and Jane Nelson) added human trafficking to the list of activities that cause a common nuisance in a community, allowing another avenue for law enforcement crack down on human trafficking operations in Texas.
HB 1994 (Randy Weber of Pearland and Van de Putte) made it permissible for local communities to hold a mandatory, day-long session for first-time “johns” (offenders who seek a prostitute), otherwise known as a “John School.” These sessions educate johns on the risks of having sex with a prostitute, including the reality of human trafficking, health risks, and other harms that come to their personal life and the community.
We can all add a big “thank you” to the Texas Legislature and Gov. Rick Perry for helping us make progress against these terrible crimes.
As I prepare for each lesson daily, I pray that God speaks through me and says to each child what he or she needs to hear. Each day that passes, I get closer to leaving. This makes me work harder because I want to make the most of my experience. Full Story »
This past Sunday, after church, the pastor brought a small grill he wanted to use. He had never grilled in his life, and I had never started a fire in my life. This was a new experience for all of us. Full Story »