Every country is either a provider, pass-through or consumer of the sex-trade. Some countries' leading export is young women. This is a global problem, which requires multi-level tactics to fight. Texas Baptists are involved in toughening laws and their enforcement, as well as providing education and skills to women freed from slavery.
What is Human Trafficking?
Technically the law states that Human trafficking is a serious federal crime with penalties of up to imprisonment for life. Federal law defines "severe forms of trafficking in persons" as: "(A) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or (B) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude , peonage, debt bondage, or slavery" [U.S.C. §7102(8)]. In short, human trafficking is modern-day slavery.
At its very core Human Trafficking is the devaluing of human life to a sellable commodity. It is manifested in the complete disregard for the value and dignity of human life assigned by the Creator - being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).
So where does the demand for goods and services that trap people in slavery come from?
The Demand for Slaves:
- Cheaper goods - we want to be able to purchase items at a reduced cost. This includes, but is not limited to: clothes, computers, automobiles, cars, jewelry, coffee and chocolate. This demand leads to minimization of labor costs as the solution for suppliers.
- Cheaper labor costs - for farm workers, construction workers, domestic works (maid/nanny) and restaurant workers, and other venues. To understand these issues globally see: www.freetheslaves.net and www.notforsalecampaign.org
The area of sexual addiction includes pornography, prostitution and pedophilia. Throughout the globe, the demand for younger and younger children is multiplying for sex tourism and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. This includes the United States and the victimization of U.S. children in huge and growing numbers, see: www.sharedhope.org. This one of the most horrific issues with the medical, mental/psychological trauma and the lack of services to assist with rescuing victims and restoring their health (AIDS and STDs are very high a contribute to the global pandemic of AIDS) are very limited. Caring for the victims and helping them to gain job skills is a key to helping them to recover and not be re-trafficked in the future.
Begging and exploitation of children to panhandle in the streets - children are often maimed for an increased pity factor to prey on potential donors to their pleas forced by a handler who demands they sell trinkets or beg cash from persons on the street. These children are monitored by traffickers and often beaten or have food withheld if they do not sell their quota for the day.
The issues of demand on our part can be addressed in a variety of responses.
- Buying smart – knowing the products you purchase are slave free and perhaps even made by freed slaves and fair trade items and their partner organization www.tradeasone.com.
- Learn more about how well companies you purchase from are doing in knowing that their supply chain is slave free or fair trade. See these websites for more information: www.betterworldshopper.org and free2work.org. A good book to grasp this is: "Everyday Justice" by Julie Clawson (2009).
Ending demand for the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children is an issue of morality and public health, which can be addressed by the church and organizations concerned for public health and the welfare of women and children. Be sure to see the demand section on www.sharedhope.org. Many children who endure abuse at home runaway. Nationally, 1 in 3 runaways are reported as trafficked in to the sex industry within 48 hours of leaving home.
The church also needs to begin to teach children in their congregations and in public schools of the practice of grooming and recruitment that might make them vulnerable and how to not be tricked into the path that leads to running away and other exploitation. There are resources for parents and church staff available to start NOW teaching youth about human trafficking. Consider: www.nationalcoalition.org as an existing curriculum "p.u.r.e.Justice;" a white paper exists at: here.
Additional resources through the Salvation Army's Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking campaign includes materials "Wise As Serpents" to teach youth about this issue on their level. www.iast.net
There is not a one way to activate on this issue - there is a plethora of possible responses and is only limited by our personal creativity. We also don"t have to re-invent the wheel in many areas and through many current organizations you can find a means to actively find solutions for personal purchases and other means to address the demand issues.
Have you signed up to be a Traffick COP? A Citizen of Purpose? We are looking for people who would want to begin advocating with their churches and their communities in the area of education and activation to end this travesty in our life time.
Human Trafficking FAQs
How big of a problem is this? How many people are enslaved worldwide?
What is the extent of human trafficking in the United States?
What are the reasons for modern slavery?
How can we identify victims of trafficking in our communities?
How does human trafficking affect our schools?
Especially for school teachers: How do I identify a victim of human trafficking?
How do I report a suspected incidence of human trafficking?
How does the United States help victims of human trafficking?
It is estimated that around 12 million people are enslaved worldwide (report from the International Labour Organisation, 2005). The actual figure may be much higher because a great deal of slavery is hidden. Some estimates put it at over 20 million. The largest numbers are in poor Asian countries and Latin America. However, it is thought that some 350,000 people are enslaved in industrialised countries. Many of the victims are women and children.
2006 Church Mission Society and Citizenship Foundation. Materials may be copied or altered for educational purposes.
Contrary to a common assumption, human trafficking is not just a problem in other countries. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and some U.S. territories. Victims of human trafficking can be children or adults, U.S. citizens or foreign nationals, male or female. According to U.S. government estimates, thousands of men, women and children are trafficked to the United States for the purposes of sexual and labor exploitation. An unknown number of U.S. citizens and legal residents are trafficked within the country primarily for sexual servitude and, to a lesser extent, forced labor. It is estimated that 15-17,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year.
The main reason is poverty. There is a huge pool of poor people throughout the world who are powerless and have no jobs. Because of changes in the world many of these have drifted to the outskirts of large cities. They can easily be exploited and used by those who want to make profit out of them. Another important reason is that governments allow slavery to go unpunished even though it is illegal everywhere. Sometimes this is because of corruption or because governments do not want to offend business people, sometimes because they are just not interested and have no respect for people's human rights. Modern slavery is part of the globalised world. It is a huge business in which enormous profits can be made from areas like agriculture, mining, construction and prostitution.
2006 Church Mission Society and Citizenship Foundation. Materials may be copied or altered for educational purposes.
Victims of trafficking may look like many of the people you help every day. You can help victims of trafficking get the assistance they need by looking beneath the surface for the following clues:
- Evidence of being controlled
- Evidence of an inability to move or leave job
- Bruises or other signs of battering
- Fear or depression
- Non-English speaking
- Recently brought to this country from Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America, Canada, Africa or India
- Lack of passport, immigration or identification documentation
Other sites with information on identifying victims of trafficking:
Trafficking can involve school-age children-particularly those not living with their parents-who are vulnerable to coerced labor exploitation, domestic servitude or commercial sexual exploitation (i.e., prostitution). Sex traffickers target children because of their vulnerability and gullibility, as well as the market demand for young victims. The average age of entry into prostitution is 12 to 14 years old and traffickers (also called "pimps") are known to recruit at schools and after-school programs.
Recruitment can take multiple forms, including:
- Solicitation by other women or girls recruiting on behalf of the sex trafficker; and
- The "loverboy" approach of appearing genuinely interested in a romantic relationship while gradually coercing the victim into prostitution.
A victim may show some of the following signs:
- Has unexplained absences from school for a period of time, and is therefore a truant;
- Demonstrates an inability to attend school on a regular basis;
- Chronically runs away from home;
- Makes references to frequent travel to other cities;
- Exhibits bruises or other physical trauma, withdrawn behavior, depression or fear;
- Lacks control over her or his schedule or identification documents;
- Is hungry, malnourished or inappropriately dressed (based on weather conditions or surroundings); and
- Shows signs of drug addiction.
Additional signs that may indicate sex-related trafficking include:
- Demonstrates a sudden change in attire, behavior or material possessions (e.g., has expensive items);
- Makes references to sexual situations that are beyond age-specific norms;
- Has a "boyfriend" who is noticeably older (10+ years);
- Makes references to terminology of the commercial sex industry that are beyond age-specific norms; and
- Engages in promiscuous behavior and may be labeled "fast" by peers.
In cases of immediate emergencies, it is best to call your local police department or emergency access number.
You can report suspected trafficking crimes or get help by calling the national 24/7 toll-free Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888. This center will help you determine if you have encountered a victim of human trafficking; identify local resources available in your community to help victims; and coordinate with local social service providers to help protect and serve victims so they can begin the process of rehabilitation and restoring their lives. When appropriate, the Resource Center makes referrals to local organizations that assist victims with counseling, case management, legal advice and other appropriate services, as well as to law enforcement agencies that help trapped victims reach safety.
For sexually exploited or abused minors, particularly those who are U.S. citizens, call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's (NCMEC) hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST to be connected with the most appropriate assistance in your area, or you can also report incidents at www.cybertipline.org
You can report suspected instances of trafficking or worker exploitation by contacting the FBI field office nearest you, or by contacting the Department of Justice's Human Trafficking Office at 1-888-428-7581.
The U.S. government supports a victim-centered approach. It funds a national public awareness campaign and a number of nongovernmental organizations that assist victims. The U.S. government seriously pursues human trafficking cases and prosecutes the traffickers. A summary of services for certified victims of trafficking is listed below: