Welcome! Here we are at the final installment of our 6-week human trafficking study. Woo hoo! It’s been agonizing, overwhelming, and hard to stomach at times. But this I know for sure . . .
If we’re going to make the world a better place, we first have to see the world with open eyes.
We have to make ourselves aware of the places of injustice and suffering.
We must be willing to enter into places of pain.
Compassion is “your pain in my heart.”
So for those of you who have taken part in this study, know that I am so proud of you – and grateful for your bravery and selflessness. Learning about human trafficking is tough!
This week we’re concluding with chapter six of David Batstone’s book, Not For Sale: Building a New Underground Railroad: The United States.
Throughout this study, I’ve heard numerous comments from people who are completely oblivious to the fact that slavery exists on the planet today. Others honestly don’t care about the issue because they wrongly assume it only happens overseas.
The truth is:
Whether human trafficking happens in your own country or not is irrelevant.
God does not delineate between here and there – or between us and them.
A crime against any child, any woman, and any part of humanity is a crime against us all.
Human trafficking in America
In 1998, Free the Slaves conducted a study and found:
- Foreigners are trafficked into the U.S. from at least 35 countries.
- California, Florida, Texas, and New York have the highest incidences of slavery.
- Mexican, eastern European, and Asian crime syndicates run extensive trafficking rings in the U.S.
- U.S. citizens and permanent residents import thousands of domestic servants into this country as slaves.
- 75% of New York apparel manufacturers often use forced labor or pay workers below minimum wage.
- Forced labor is most prevalent in prostitution and sex services; domestic services; agriculture; sweatshop/factory work; and restaurant and hotel work.
Everyday Heroes in America
None of the heroes in chapter six woke up in the morning deciding, “Today’s the day I’m going to be a hero.” Rather – they’re ordinary people who were faced with injustice in the mundaneness of daily life.
Instead of responding with apathy, they chose to do something.
Here are a few of the heroes mentioned in chapter six:
- From Cameroon, Africa.
- Louis is an ordinary guy living an ordinary life who happened to stumble across slavery in America.
- Acting out of principle, he liberates slaves from the homes of wealthy families in Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey.
- In seven incidents since 1999, he has rescued teenage African girls from domestic servitude and sexual bondage right here in the USA.
- Louis receives no support or pay for his work, and encountered many challenges as he worked to bring slaveholders to justice and help rescued slaves build new lives.
- (P. 211-213; 219-222; 236-238)
Derek Ellerman and Katherine Chon:
- College students at Brown University.
- Katherine first heard about human trafficking during a dinner conversation.
- She researched the issue and discovered that very few people knew much of anything about it.
- Katherine decided to become an active abolitionist.
- She and Derek struggled to find meaningful ways to be involved.
Recognizing the need to increase awareness and promote an understanding of the mechanisms of the modern slave trade, they:
- Convinced two professors to change their standard curriculum and require students to conduct original research on human trafficking.
- They wrote up a business plan for an antislavery agency and entered a competition for entrepreneurs. They received a $12,500 cash prize for winning 2nd place, and used the funds to launch The Polaris Project.
- Polaris Project Outreach Coordinator
- She’s frustrated by the number of people who still think sex trafficking only happens to women and children overseas. When Americans run into an American girl on the street, they immediately assume she’s made the choice to be there and can walk away anytime she wants to. Is that your perspective?
- Tina shares that pimps today are cocky and unafraid of police and the judicial system. They believe they’re untouchable. She states:
“We as Americans, have made them untouchable by not recognizing the problem and solving it.”
(P. 217-219; 238-241)
- Lived in Asia in the 1990′s supporting efforts of abolitionists in Thailand and Japan.
- Designed strategies to reduce trafficking in rural communities – a trafficker’s favorite playground for new recruits.
In her work, Kay recognized something:
- Societies tolerate violence against women.
- 4 out of 5 trafficking victims are female.
- In most cases traffickers utilize sexual violence to dominate their “recruits”/victims – regardless of her form of slavery.
In 2003, Kay became Executive Director at CAST (Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking).
CAST was established after federal agents rescued 72 garment workers in El Monte, California who had been held captive for seven years. Victims were treated like illegal aliens, and put in jail. Human rights and Asian community groups came together to help the women – and CAST was born.
In light of the El Monte case, lawmakers passed the TVPA (Trafficking Victims Protection Act) in late 2000 to ensure just and effective punishment of traffickers, and protection for their victims.
“A tidal wave could sweep over trafficking networks worldwide when women organize internationally to help other women.”
- From Puerto Rico.
- Worked for the sheriff’s office in Collier County, Florida, where she helped bring domestic violence and human trafficking cases to trial.
- Eventually quit her job to establish the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
As Executive Director of the Florida Coalition, she:
- Links law enforcement and social service agencies with trafficking victims.
- Trains people to recognize the signs of human trafficking.
“Human trafficking can work only if the victims remain invisible to the public eye. We have to remove the veil of ignorance.”
(P. 233-235; 248-253)
Men, women, and children are crying out for help in brothels, factories, and warehouses around the world. What will you do? What can you do?
Here’s are PDF with a little empowerment – ways you can take action:
Click here for a Human Trafficking Printable to keep in your wallet. . .
Links to previous weeks in this study:
What’s the most significant thing you’re taking away from this study as a whole. How might God be calling you to be involved? How can your church address this issue?
Do Something Now!
Share, share, share the information in this study! The overwhelming majority of people are oblivious to the travesty and reality of human trafficking. Raising awareness is key. So SHARE!