"He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the captives." -Luke 4:18
Somehow I thought today was January's last. I guess a should get a calendar? I wanted to talk about Human Trafficking Awareness Month (January) and with the Super Bowl this evening this is still good timing.
There are around 21 million people on earth who are victims of human trafficking, where they are forced or coerced to work against their will. About 20% of those trafficked are sexually exploited. While most victims are from Asian countries, this is a global problem. Men and women, boys and girls are trafficked from and into each continent. Of those trafficked, 80% are female, and 50% are children (typically 12-14 years old). Once a female becomes sexually trafficked her life expectancy is just seven years, she will most likely die of homicide or AIDS.
This is tragic. This is shameful. This is sickening. This is an embarrassment to the free world. This is heartbreaking.
It will take each one of us working together to stop this heinous crime against humanity.
How can we help?
Pray. Plead freedom for the captives, repentance for the traffickers, and compassion for those who would exploit them. Pray that your city be a place of justice where trafficking is stopped. You guys know how much I love correlation and the International Princess Project had the great idea of praying for those in red light districts when you are stuck at a traffic light.
Report anything suspicious. Scenarios could be: Seeing a man or men in a car with young girls who obviously aren't related to them, especially if they aren't allowed to get out of the car at a gas station or rest stop. A girl with a significantly older "boyfriend." Girls from low or average income families with expensive clothing, jewelry, and technology. If you spot something suspicious in your area or while travelling call the National Human Trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Buy Fair Trade. Men and women earning fair wages breaks the cycle of trafficking. A fair income means daughters won't need to be sent away to "work," better education of what trafficking is and how to avoid it, and ultimately less slave-labor. This goes for fruits and vegetables, coffee, chocolate, clothing, jewelry and household items. Yes, fair trade is often more expensive but someone needs to pay the price for justice.
Never watch pornography. In case you needed another reason to avoid porn, keep in mind many of the 'stars' are participating against their will. While watching pornography doesn't necessarily lead to sexual exploitation it is a gateway that leads many men to commercial sex.
Watch a documentary. This is a great way to educate yourself on human trafficking and its victims. Born Into Brothels, Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, and Sex and Money all demonstrate the hopelessness and horror victims (and their children) face. As you can guess, their content is disturbing so please use wisdom about watching with children.
Support ministries working to fight human trafficking! Many help women by training them in different job skills and offering employment. You can make a purchase or a donation of time or money. A few of my favorites are:
The Daughter Project - recovery home for teenage girls who have been trafficked, located near Toledo, Ohio.
Rescue Her - out of Dallas, Texas they created a safe house in Chennai, India and have many outreaches in the US.
Thistle Farms - helping women heal from their abuse and offering alternative employment making a variety of soaps and lotions.
Breaking Free - in St. Paul, Minnesota they offer housing and outreach to help women and girls out of prostitution.
Exodus Cry - the team behind the Nefarious documentary got involved with prevention, intervention, and restoration.
Nightlight International - giving dignified jobs as jewelry makers to women who have escaped human trafficking. They work in Thailand and the US and have plans for a bakery and coffee shop in the works.
Punjammies - comfy pajama pants and clothing made by women who wish to remain free from sex-slavery in India.
Elegantees - restoring the lives of victims of trafficking in Nepal by employing them to make one shirt at a time.
I know there are tons of other great organizations fighting human trafficking that I missed! What are your favorites to support?