Hello friends! Thanks for joining this online study. So glad you’re here! To begin: How would you define the term “human trafficking?” What about s*x trafficking?
Al lot of people I’ve talked to believe s*x trafficking just involves women who willingly prostitute themselves.
Others believe human trafficking only happens in other nations so there’s no need for us to be concerned about it. That astounds me. All human being are valuable regardless of where they live. Atrocities against anyone in humanity are atrocities against all of humanity and should be a concern for us all.
I can say without a doubt that God’s heart bleeds over the oppression and evil of human trafficking. He’s waiting for brave souls to wake up, open their eyes, and join him in the battle to eradicate it.
Years ago, when I showed my husband a video of a victim of s*x trafficking, Long Pross, he said, “I didn’t know evil like that existed in this world.” Sadly, it does.
For years I’ve been overwhelmed with this issue and have been really frustrated over knowing how to help. That’s why we’re doing this study. Awareness is the first step.
Some of the content in this study will be difficult to digest. It may haunt your thoughts – so I’ll be praying for you throughout this time.
I may use some funny symbols in some of my words to try to guard against places search engines might send us.
For this study you’ll need:
- David Batstone’s book, “Not For Sale”
- A Bible
Each week I’ll review the chapter, share resources and statistics related to human trafficking, and look at scripture.
Not for Sale is not an exhaustive study of slavery. It’s more of a handbook for the modern-day abolitionist.
This week, we’re looking at the introduction and chapter one of “Not For Sale.” If you have the book, you’ll want to read those chapters first.
Let’s start with a definition of human trafficking (from notforsalecampaign.org):
“Slavery occurs when one person completely controls another person, using violence or the threat of violence to maintain that control, exploits them economically, and they cannot walk away.”
The definition of trafficking has three main components:
- The action of trafficking; which means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons
- The means of trafficking; which includes threat of or use of force, deception, coercion, abuse of power or position of vulnerability
- The purpose of trafficking; which is always exploitation. In the words of the Trafficking Protocol, article 3 “exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
General Information on trafficking:
- There are approximately 27 million men, women, and children worldwide living as slaves today – more than the number of slaves who were bartered during four centuries of the transatlantic slave trade. Almost 1.4 million of that number are repeatedly sold and raped in a violent and dehumanizing global sex industry. In the U.S., at least 100,000 children are victims of commercial sexual exploitation every year.
- With approximately 32 billion dollars in revenue, commerce in human beings now rivals drug trafficking and the illegal arms trade as the top criminal activity on the planet.
Introduction: Finding Slavery in My Own Backyard
In the introduction, David Batstone points out that human trafficking isn’t just a overseas issue. It’s in our own backyard here in the United States.
Click these links for information about slavery in America:
In 2003, President Bush addressed this global crisis at the UN General Assembly. He later established a high-level position at the State Department – the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. It publishes an annual report called the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.
You can find those here: TIP Report
- The slave trade is driven by supply and demand. You and I drive the demand. Next week we’ll visit a website that will estimate the approximate number of slaves who work for us as we enter information about the items in our household.
- 80% of slaves trafficked across international borders are female; 50% are children.
- Trafficking victims are sent to unfamiliar destinations where they have no legal protection under citizenship. They’re moved around frequently isolating them from family & friends who would be able to help them.
- Slaveholders used to view slave ownership as an investment. Due to the cost of extracting and transporting slaves, they wanted to exact the highest value of their “investment” over the course of a slave’s lifetime.
- In the modern slave trade, the economics and ease of transporting slaves has changed dramatically. Slaves are no longer a long-term investment. They are “disposable.” Their health and care is not important. New slaves can be found easily and without great expense to replace previous slaves who perished. I have heard of traffickers who profit from the slaves who perish by harvesting their organs and selling them on the black market.
Chapter One: Shining Light Into the Darkness – Thailand:
David tells the story of Chan. His father was a drug smuggler. Soldiers from the Burmese military regime discovered what he was doing and burst into his home one night. They shot and killed Chan’s dad.
Chan’s mom immediately became a beggar on the streets. Within one month, traffickers had targeted her and bought her children.
After enduring abuse and horrendous conditions, Chan escaped slavery by jumping from a 2nd-story window leaving his weak and battered sister behind.
Are you beginning to see the connection between poverty and slavery?
In Thailand forced labor and commercial s*xual exploitation exist on a massive scale.
Slavery flourishes in Thailand because of:
- Rapid industrialization
- Devastating poverty
- Armed conflicts
- Exploding population growth
Social turmoil during World War II spurred the first semblance of a s*x entertainment center for international tourists in Thailand. The industry boomed which caused large-scale commercial s*xual exploitation.
Specialized travel agencies promote and arrange “exotic s*xual adventures” for tourists.
Men drive the demand with 40-50% of local men engaging. It’s common practice socially and in business.
In many countries in SE Asia, more than half the population is under 15. With a lack of resources to sustain them, youth are the first to be expendable.
Traffickers commonly target children.
- 150 million children 5-14 work each day (UNICEF report – 2009)
- 43% of those are trafficked for commercial s*xual exploitation.
The Cost to Own a Slave in Thailand:
- A brothel owner pays as little as $20 to purchase a woman or a child. A life for $20!
- Virgins bring a higher price: $500-$1000.
Some societal factors influencing the slave trade:
- The sale of daughters and sons is culturally acceptable.
- Females are second class in Buddhist views. Being born female suggests acting wrongfully in a previous life. Women can’t reach highest level of enlightenment. The best they can hope for is to build up enough good karma to be male in the next life.
- Refugees are targeted by traffickers due to their vulnerability and lack of legal standing in a foreign nation.
- Traffickers pay local people in communities and villages to help them find young women & children, and to target families who are poor and vulnerable.
- Thailand has passed laws prohibiting forced marriage and human trafficking in all forms, but they do not enforce their laws.
Kru Nam - On the front-lines of the anti-slavery movement in Thailand.
Kru Nam is a painter with a university degree who saw young street kids living along the aquaducts in her town.
She wanted to get their stories so she took empty canvases, brushes, and tins of paint to have them paint their stories.
The pictures were horrifying. (Page 25 depicts the stories of children who were sold to sex bars.)
Kru Nam organized street teams to roam the streets and locate unaccompanied kids. She has placed herself in direct competition with traffickers. Talk about a battle of good and evil!
Kru Nam then moved 150 miles upstream to Mae Sai and set up a shelter (in tents) for the kids.
One day, she found Chan foraging in a dumpster. His body was disfigured from severe burns and malnourishment. She earned his trust, and he now lives in her home for rescued children. (Buddies Along the Roadside)
Since then the Not for Sale organization has built permanent housing and a health clinic, providing all the necessary medical equipment and supplies for Kru Nam’s organization.
Annie was a child of missionary parents.
After seeing how women were entrapped in the s*x industry, (read page 34), she launched NightLight International in 2005 to help women escape the s*x trade.
Bar owners intimidate through physical abuse, spiritual rites, and controlling girls’ emotions. Annie visits s*x bars to try to foster relationships with the girls while men pray outside. This is exactly what they do through NightLight in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and other places.
Annie also trains women to make and sell jewelry which provides them with a sustainable livelihood. The women must agree to leave the sex industry completely and commit to working a 40-hour week. She pays them a salary not a fee per produced item.
During the workday, women participate in workshops on healthcare, HIV/AIDS prevention, financial management, spiritual formation, and the English language.
Annie recognizes the profound evil in the sex trade and calls upon religious communities to deploy prayer and action against it.
The Not For Sale Freedom Store carries NightLight jewelry.
Read Isaiah 59:1-15; Romans 3:21-24
Why is justice far from us?
What do we learn about God from the statement that it is displeasing in His sight that there is no justice?
How do we begin to counter the culture and seek pure justice in this area? How are we to respond?
Read Mark 7:21-23
Where does Jesus tell us sin exists and proceeds from?
Read Psalm 23:3-4, Col. 3:5, 1 John 1:6-9
Can we pursue justice if our hearts and lives are corrupt?
The necessary response to the exploitation existing today is a justice lifestyle centered on personal integrity and accountability. We can’t fight for justice effectively if we are living in corruption.
Pray For Rescued Slaves in America
A friend of mine works for Restore Her - a long-term facility in Texas that’s working to restore trafficked minors. Click here to see my blog post with her story.
She’s asked us to pray for these girls:
- Lexi: 18 (That she will finish her studies (GED) and go to cosmetology school)
- Lexis: Ran away and is back on the streets
- Haylie: Struggling to overcome her abortion
- Steph: Cutting herself again and making herself throw up.
Questions for you:
- What is one thing you learned from the author about the slave trade?
- Did the author communicate anything that surprised you?
- Who is typically targeted by traffickers?
- How do you feel about the sale of children by their parents?
- How do you feel about the way women are viewed – or how slaves are viewed by their slaveholders in general?
- What is the connection between poverty, vulnerability, overpopulation and slavery?
- What societal issues would complicate the eradication of human trafficking in this area of the world?
Feel free to answer any of these questions in the comment section below – or leave any questions you might have.
You can find next week’s assignment here:
Human Trafficking Study
Share this post to raise awareness and get others involved in the battle for justice.
Thanks again for being a part of this important study!