Approximately 30 million children have lost their childhood through sexual exploitation over the past 30 years. This includes victims of the international crime of modern day sex-slavery, also known as human trafficking. These precious children have their entire childhood stripped away. Any memories of innocence and vitality are replaced with abuse and violence. Enslaved children never enjoy sunny days, play with their friends, or even go to school. This developmentally critical time period for growing kids is completely disregarded. Joy forgotten. Happiness lost. Freedom stolen.
Practically every sort of evil is wrapped into this one ever growing crime called Human Trafficking; coercion, fraud, selfishness, ambition, murder, rape, money, women, and drugs. An official definition:
“Human Trafficking is a crime against humanity. It involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them.”
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
We live in denial when subjects like this arise. Ugliness hurts and most choose to ignore, avoid and shove away the truth of reality. We cannot be silent while so many young people are exploited. Today there are currently over 32 million slaves worldwide, more than ever before in the course of history. Wrestling with the fact that our world enslaves more people now than during the African slave trade seems almost unimaginable. During the African Slave Trade, slavery was legal and promoted. Now, slavery is illegal in most countries, yet more prominent than we dare to believe.
Every minute, two children are prepared for sexual exploitation.
If you have a pulse, such a statistic brings immediate disgust. Girls stuck in the bondage of sexual exploitation have been manipulated into thinking the life they live is normal and even acceptable. For some, this forced existence is all they have ever known. We have heard multiple stories of little children literally growing up under the bed of slavery, such as Anika. She was born in the trafficking-ridden city of Calcutta, India. Her mother gave birth to her amongst the disease-infested filth of her stall. The mother was forced to continue her work as a sex-slave, while attempting to raise her child. To subdue the baby, she was encouraged to feed Anika alcohol. Thankfully, this little one escaped the clutches of the trafficking monster and now lives in the loving care of a safe home. However, her kidneys suffer from the damage of alcohol and her life bears physical scars of bondage.
Victims of sex trafficking can be men or women, girls or boys, but the majority are women and girls. There are a number of common patterns for luring victims into situations of sex trafficking, including:
• A promise of a good job in another country
• A false marriage proposal
• Sold into the sex trade by parents, husbands, and boyfriends
• Kidnapped by traffickers
Sex traffickers frequently subject their victims to debt-bondage, an illegal practice in which the traffickers convince their victims that they owe them money. They trick the girls into believing any living expenses or faulty transporting costs into the new country are “their responsibility.” As a result, they must pledge their sexual services to repay the debt. Traffickers are evil and crafty, making it impossible for girls to gain their freedom. Sex traffickers use a variety of methods to “condition” their victims. This includes starvation, confinement, beating, physical abuse, rape, gang rape, threats of violence to the victims and their families, forced drug use, and the threats of shame by revealing their activities.
Psychological harms include shame, grief, fear, distrust, hatred of men, self-hatred, suicidal thoughts and actions. Victims are at risk for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)—an acute anxiety, depression, insomnia, and physical hyper alertness. It is common for victims to also suffer from traumatic bonding—a form of coercive control in which the perpetrator instills in the victim fear as well as gratitude for being allowed to live. This “trauma bonding” commonly manifests itself when a girl is trafficked by her former “boyfriend.” She believes she actually loves him and that she deserves to be trafficked. By far, this is one of the most devastating factors affecting enslaved women.
Human trafficking is estimated to surpass drug trafficking within the next two to five years, debuting as the number one international crime. Unlike drugs, women can be sold and resold. You can use a drug once and the deal is done. A little girl, however, can be raped over and over, bringing in more money as a valuable asset. In the business world of infraction, pimping out girls is completely rational. Women are a renewable product, sold up to 40 times a day, bringing in an average revenue of $300,000 per year, per victim. If a trafficker is involved in a ring where he owns ten girls, elementary math tells us that annual profit is enormous. The drive for money, the continual striving for more, more, more, fuels the commerce. Human trafficking tips the scales at a staggering $58 billion dollars, an annual income higher than that of Wal-Mart, Nike and Starbucks combined. It’s obvious that this industry is riddled with every sort of evil. If this is true, why is it still an issue? The Bible tells us that the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil and the progressive greed of human nature is what perpetuates the endless cycle of sin.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Because of the complexity and quite honestly the danger of being involved in an anti-trafficking organization, often answering the question of how people can help is the hardest thing we encounter.
First, we encourage you to find what God has given you a passion for— most likely, it’s not sex trafficking, and that’s okay! Our biggest piece of advice is to STRIVE after whatever the Lord has set on your heart. Do this first, by EDUCATING YOURSELF. Become an expert on whatever issue you are interested in and then share that information with anyone who will listen. Become an advocate for the voiceless who cannot speak for themselves.
In relation to sexual slavery, the best way to aid in eradicating this crime is to expose it. Educate yourself on the issue. By educating yourself you create responsibility and heightened awareness of the world around you. Second only to prayer—this is the most effective way to abolish slavery today. Talk about it, don’t hide it or hide from it. Then SHARE what you learn with others, so they are accountable to this new knowledge also. There is power in knowledge, and like the cliche, there is much ignorance in bliss—but not at the expense of thousands of lives being held captive. The issue of human trafficking is worth your attention. Let it be known, that we might shine light on the secret things.
Here are a few links to different organizations and resources:
Behind the Soiled Curtain by David and Beth Grant
Priceless by Tom Davis
Undaunted by Christine Caine
From Congress to the Brothel by Linda Smith
The White Umbrella by Mary Francis Bowley
Documentaries and Movies (to be viewed with caution):
Trade of Innocents
HOST YOUR OWN EVENT:
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