Tomorrow, January 11th, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. This is a research paper I did my senior year of high school to help raise awareness. Will you be a voice for the voiceless with me?
There are approximately 40.3 million people enslaved in a $150 billion dollar industry. This illegal trade is not exempt from occurring in the United States either. Every single country in the world is guilty of exploiting innocent people and using them (without their consent) for their bodies or forced labor (Caine). Anyone who thought that the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery once and for all must think again. Today, there are more people enslaved than at any other time in history, with about 5.4 of every 1,000 people being trapped in slavery or forced marriages (Caine). Modern day slavery can be compared to the harsh treatment of African Americans before the Civil War or Hitler’s grave atrocities towards Jews in the 1940’s. It is the responsibility of the freedmen to fight human trafficking and modern-day slavery, raising their voices for those who can’t, fighting to be a light amidst the darkness of the underground sex trade, to set the enslaved free.
According to the definition by the organization A21, “Human trafficking is the exploitation of vulnerable people for their bodies and labor” (Caine). Slaves are not given a choice, and basic humans rights are stripped away from those trapped in enslavement. It is estimated that 1 in 6 of the 26,300 reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children every year are possible sex victims. While these numbers are only approximations, it is also likely that of the thousands reported missing each year, still many others go undocumented (Walsh). Truly, it is alarming how these traffickers so easily (and secretly) manipulate millions of vulnerable people into exploitation. While some may indeed be kidnapped off the street, that is not every sex slave’s story. Some were simply second-generation slaves, that is, born into slavery, while many others were deceived or misled by the trafficker for false promises of a better life (As Our Own, The Crisis). Many find it difficult to abandon their former life since they have developed a bond with the trafficker. Cristian Eduardo says, “I would like [police] to understand that we are conflicted, that we have developed bonds with the trafficker” (ECPAT-USA, Trafficking). It is also worth mentioning that India has the highest orphan population in the world, so it is no wonder of the millions left to roam the streets, many fall prey to sex traffickers. Because they understand the danger their daughters may face should they grow up in the streets, many Indian mothers choose to abort their baby girls before birth, preventing them from growing up and living the harsh life of a slave (As Our Own, The Crisis). Sex traffickers prowl daily, looking for the next vulnerable victim they can offer false hope or a sense of security to; therefore, we must do all we can to protect and educate the susceptible.
The life of a sex slave is one filled with darkness, violence, and abuse. A horrific incident occurred to a girl in India when she was only 11 years old. On her way home from school, she was drugged and awoke hours later to find herself a slave in a brothel and miles from home with no way back. Years later, she bore a baby girl. Almost right away, men from other brothels came with the intention of buying her child and raising her to be a sex slave. That’s what most likely would have happened had not the organization As Our Own heard of the situation and offered to rescue the baby. Today, that baby has grown up to be a young girl who is safe under the care of As Our Own, while her mom, still a slave, is an inside advocate for As Our Own (As Our Own, Stories). The treatment of sex slaves is inhumane, and in some cases, worse than one would treat an animal. One survivor reported being called Brown Sugar, due to the color of her skin, versus her own name. She explains that victims sometimes feel as if they have no one they can trust, and children caught in sex acts often get blamed and arrested while the trafficker goes unpunished (ECPAT-USA, Survivor). Today, female slaves in India could be sold from anywhere between $17-$500, often less than what animals are sold for in that same country. As the organization Set Beautiful Free says, “[They are] treated like expendable commodities until there is nothing left.” No trafficker even cares about the value or worth of any of these people that God created. In fact, it’s been reported that children as young as 7 years old are being sold into prostitution or a forced marriage, and most die between 35-40 years of age (As Our Own, The Crisis). Often, if a slave becomes ill, they are usually killed or dumped (Free the Slaves). These poor men, women, and children are forced beyond their will to submit to a life of great abuse and terror, a world of underground human trafficking that occurs hidden in the darkness so that few ever leave, and many never know.
For those who do survive, the aftermath and rescue can be as traumatic as slavery itself, and the emotional, mental, and physical scars do not heal for a long time, if they heal at all (Kunstle, Beyond Rescue). Newly freed slaves often don’t understand that the social workers from organizations are trying to help them. Each of the survivors have been through so much, and they trust no one, so when they are brought to organizations that are trying to help them, many often wish to flee (Kunstle, Aftercare). It’s too much for them and so hard to handle that a mere research paper could not even begin to describe the horrors and difficulty of what they’ve been through. Social workers do their best to help aid the survivors in their journey to healing, but even they can’t understand fully the trauma a freed slave has gone through. Slaves are given both medical and physiological exams as well as job trainings, education, and counseling (Kunstle, Beyond Rescue). Each of the organizations wish to help these freed slaves on their journey towards healing, and may God bless them for doing so! More important than loosing the physical chains, however, is introducing them to the healing power of Jesus Christ. Only in Him will these former slaves ever know what it truly means to be set free.
As mentioned before, there are dozens and dozens of organizations created specifically to redeem the captives, and each of them can use all the help they can get when it comes to fighting for freedom. There are many practical ways that anyone can help, and what someone may consider a small, mundane task can have a large impact. You don’t need to be wealthy to give a little or have your life all put together to serve; you simply need to give whatever you can and that looks different for each person. Some people may find it easier to donate money, which will help provide the survivors with a safe home and education and will help enable the social workers to provide doctors and open clinics (Set Beautiful Free, Our Response). Word must be spread to expose this illegal trade and bring it into the light, and telling others is an important way to do that (Exodus Road, Take Action). By educating people, providing family stability, and medical care to those in need, organizations all over the world are striving to prevent human trafficking from ever occurring in the first place (Kunstle, Prevention). As Jesus Himself said in Matthew 25:40 ESV, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me.’”
Human trafficking is an illegal trade that many never try to bring to light, primarily because so few truly know what goes on behind the closed doors of slavery, and there is no one to speak for those who can’t. Even the Founding Fathers, when they wrote the Constitution for the United States of America, understood that every human being is born with certain “unalienable” rights. After all, every person was specially handcrafted and made in the image of God Himself. God intended for humans to live in freedom, as was evidenced when He sent His only Son to die to set us free from sin, so why do we, being once slaves ourselves, at least in the spiritual sense, ignore the millions around the world trapped with no voice, no hope, and no way out?
T-shirt from Just1
Caine, Nick and Christine. Human Trafficking | A21. https://www.a21.org//content/human-trafficking/gqe0rc. Accessed 9 Dec. 2020.
“ECPAT-USA.” ECPAT-USA, https://www.ecpatusa.org/child-trafficking. Accessed 14 Dec. 2020.
“—.” ECPAT-USA, 15 June 2020, https://www.ecpatusa.org/blog/2020/6/15/survivor-stories-interview-with-brown-sugar.
Kunstle, Stephanie. Beyond Rescue: Aftercare and The Exodus Road. 11 Dec. 2019, https://blog.theexodusroad.com/aftercare-and-ter.
Kunstle, Stephanie. Prevention: How to Stop Human Trafficking Before It Starts. 13 Jan. 2020, https://blog.theexodusroad.com/prevention-how-to-stop-human-trafficking.
Kunstle, Stephanie. What Is Aftercare in Human Trafficking? 11 Feb. 2020, https://blog.theexodusroad.com/aftercare-human-trafficking.
“Our Response.” Set Beautiful Free, https://setbeautifulfree.org/our-response/. Accessed 14 Dec. 2020.
“Set Beautiful Free | An Initiative of Bombay Teen Challenge.” Set Beautiful Free, https://setbeautifulfree.org/. Accessed 14 Dec. 2020.
Slavery Today « Free the Slaves. https://www.freetheslaves.net/our-model-for-freedom/slavery-today/. Accessed 18 Dec. 2020.
Stories of Courage – As Our Own. https://asourown.org/what-we-do/stories-of-courage. Accessed 14 Dec. 2020.
The Crisis – As Our Own. https://asourown.org/the-crisis/. Accessed 14 Dec. 2020.
“The Exodus Road – Human Trafficking – Your Invitation to Take Action.” The Exodus Road, https://theexodusroad.com/take-action/. Accessed 18 Dec. 2020.
“The Issue.” Set Beautiful Free, https://setbeautifulfree.org/the-issue/. Accessed 14 Dec. 2020.
Walsh, John and Reve. Key Facts. https://www.missingkids.org/footer/media/keyfacts. Accessed 9 Dec. 2020.
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2 thoughts on “Until Every One is Free”
This is such a thoughtfully written and well researched article and shows such maturity in your ability to bring light to this topic. May your article be widely circulated. Love, Gram
LikeLiked by 1 person
Aw, thank you so much, Gram! Much love!