Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings, mainly for the purposes of forced labor and sex trafficking. As the world’s fastest growing criminal industry, it affects every nation across the globe. Every 30 seconds, someone becomes a victim of modern-day slavery.
There are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history, with an estimated 27 million in bondage across the globe. Men, women, and children are being exploited for manual and sexual labor against their will. ~ A21 Campaign
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Many of you will read this and wonder what exactly this implies for you. We are surrounded by so much information and stimulation, both physical and emotional. Sometimes we feel we are constantly hyper-aware of what’s going on in our own little worlds, overly sensitive to the schedule, the environment, the people around us. Other times we try to block everything out, just to gain a sense of calm and peace, even if but for a moment’s breather.
But never can we fully remove our hearts and our minds from something which has grabbed our attention, lodged in the back of our minds and caught the passion of our hearts.
Awareness is the ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, thoughts, emotions, or sensory patterns. To be aware is easy, simple, natural – to respond is often difficult, complicated, purposeful. Especially in matters as complicated, staggering and devastating as human trafficking.
I know, because I’ve been there. Overwhelmed, heart-broken, wondering how on earth things could change in the realm of such a massive problem. The numbers are astronomical. The people in government looking the other way, unwilling to throw around their weight for a change. Not just across the ocean to foreign countries, but here, in my own backyard.
But over time I’ve seen so many small glimpses of hope, heard many testimonies of victory, experienced tremendous response to requests for others to pray and do something.
Human trafficking can only be stopped if a global community takes a stand and commits to DO SOMETHING. We all have a responsibility to help put an end to this crime and together we can make a difference. Let’s not only imagine a world free from human trafficking, let’s DO SOMETHING. ~ 3 Strands Global
If you’re sitting here wondering what on earth you can possibly do with this issue of human trafficking you’ve now been made aware of, would you let me offer a few humble, simple suggestions?
Red light districts are all over the world. They may not be obvious, but they definitely exist. Women and children are trafficked in the backs of nail salons and massage parlours, sold from street corners by pimps and forced to work in unsafe, unsanitary conditions. Prayer can change any situation, any heart, no matter how desperate. When you’re stopped at a red light, why not stop and pray for those who have been and are being trafficked, and for wisdom in how you can help.
When you’re buying something, research the source. Purpose to make purchases that make a difference.
It’s not something we often think about – where the items we buy came from, who made them, what (or who) was sacrificed in the process. But when you start looking, you’ll be astonished, shocked at what you will find. People make the products we buy, and many of them make them under atrocious circumstances with many corners cut and laws broken.
If you keep digging, you will discover that there are now many companies who, because the public has been making an outcry and are standing up for better governing and laws in the industries, are now making drastic changes to their production. There are still more every day who have vowed and follow through with providing products that are fair trade and ethically made.
Check out this ever growing list of companies who are committed to ethical fashion.
Going one step further, many companies are starting up with a focus on employing women rescued from trafficking, providing them with after care, counselling, training in a trade or skill, in order to restore to them a portion of their lives that was once lost. These are just a few:
Make a difference locally.
Sometimes the simplest and best solutions aren’t the easiest ones to think of. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that human trafficking is a problem that exists right in our own backyards. Some of the biggest facades for trafficking cover-ups are places like nail salons and massage parlours that are unregistered and unlicensed. These places are often overlooked and ignored, while in the backs of their shops they’re hosting and participating in the trafficking.
Contact your mayor, city council members, senators, local politicians, urge them to make the fight against human trafficking a priority and make suggestions as to how they can help end the problem.
Follow organizations involved in rescues and after-care and give.
The International Justice Mission is world-renowned for their integrity in their work and fight against human trafficking. They have performed hundreds of rescues and are committed to training local authorities to recognize the signs of trafficking and step up to do something about it.
Some other organizations you’ll want to check out and give to are:
- Exodus Cry
- Nightlight International
- A21 Campaign
- Not For Sale
- Urban Light (working specifically with exploited boys/young men)
For some of us, these ideas are no big deal and things we’re already doing. For others, it’s still overwhelming and we’re floundering. But taking these steps takes us in the direction of making a world of change in someone’s life. Even if it’s just one person who is rescued, one heart that is challenged, one life (yours?) that is changed – that is enough.