The Issue: Human Trafficking
What Is Human Trafficking?
Human Trafficking, a form of modern day slavery, is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Trafficking drives profit by treating men, women and children as commodities to be traded, usually for the purpose of forced labor or sex trafficking.
According to the A21 Campaign, there are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in history. The statistics are staggering.
How Do Christians Respond in the Face of Such Evil?
We ARE the danger to the darkness.
If you do nothing else to learn more about human trafficking today, take a few moments to watch this video:
As the A-21 Campaign's Christine Caine says so powerfully, while there are 27 Million slaves today, there are over 2 BILLION Christians--that's a ration of 85 to 1. We are the Light of Christ and the danger to the darkness.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we understand that God created each of us uniquely, made in His own image. He loved each of us individually so much that He sent His only Son Jesus to be born, to live, and to die on earth in order to pay the penalty for every single person's sins--so that we might have new life, new hope, eternal life, and a restored relationship with our Holy God. What a gift and how precious each of us must be to Him!
The evil of human trafficking denies the priceless value of human beings created in the image of God, treating them instead as commodities to be bought and sold. Human trafficking also destroys God's good design for sexuality.
As the Church, we have an intimate relationship with the Holy God of the Universe through His Son Jesus Christ, our Savior, Rescuer, Redeemer and Friend. We who have been rescued have the responsibility to rescue.
We can be the danger to the darkness.
The Christian Church must:
- Be a voice for the oppressed and seek true justice
- Support ministries working to stop trafficking
- Live out God's good design for marriage and sexuality
- Bring real hope to the oppressed that can only come through Jesus Christ
- Through Christ, the only One who can redeem, help restore men whose lives have been scarred by pornography, engaging in prostitution or trafficking, and other sexual addiction and deviation
- Support anti-trafficking legislation and law enforcement
- Be a light for the culture
How many people are affected by human trafficking?
There are approximately 27 million people in bondage around the globe. More men, women, and children are being exploited for labor and sexual work than at any other point in history. According to the A21 Campaign, every 30 seconds someone else becomes a victim of modern day slavery.
What types of industries are typically affected by human trafficking?
The industries most frequently documented as strongholds for forced labor include the garment and textile industries with modern day slaves working in sweatshop conditions, agriculture, restaurant, construction, and the entertainment and sex industries. The most common industry for human trafficking is sexual exploitation, fueled by the pornography industry.
Can't the victims escape?
Victims are completely controlled by their traffickers. They are threatened, beaten, and made to feel worthless so they become dependent upon their traffickers. Victims are often locked up, unable to leave for any reason, and forced to work at all hours of the day or night. They never know what is going on and sometimes don’t even know where they are. Many become addicted to drugs, like heroin, because they feel the escape the drugs give them is the only way they can survive or cope with what is happening to them.
Can young girls choose prostitution?
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) states that sex trafficking requires force, fraud or coercion UNLESS the victim is a minor. Minors are always considered victims of sex trafficking under federal law. Here in Minnesota, since 2011 sexually exploited youth have been added to Minnesota's Child Protection Code, and as of 2014, sexually exploited youth age 17 or younger are considered as victims in need of care (not delinquents).
How are girls recruited by traffickers or pimps?
Anyone who benefits from the sexual exploitation of a minor is a pimp or trafficker. They often approach minors in middle or high school and lavish their victims with gifts, emotional support, adventure, or anything the minor thinks he or she is lacking. Once the pimp or trafficker has gained the minor's trust, the child is forced into prostitution.
Is there a risk of girls who have been trafficked for sex returning to their captors after they have been rescued?
YES. Girls who are trafficked and returned home often face the same risks they did prior to their captivity and are at significant risk of being captured again. (See more from the World Health Organization.)
The phenomenon of "traumatic bonding" is also of significant concern. Many girls are controlled by their captors by fear, but also a gratitude for being allowed to live or have material goods (including drugs) and affection provided to them. This evil form of bonding creates a risk of girls desiring to return to their captors even after rescue.
The Star Tribune's 4-part story of Bobbi, a young girl from the Lake Superior North Shore, and her rescue by a Minneapolis police officer helps explain this phenomenon.
Is sex trafficking of children happening in the United States?
YES. Domestic minor sex trafficking includes prostitution, pornography, stripping, and other sexual acts. These children are victims of commercial sexual exploitation where they are bought, sold, or traded for their sexual services. It is estimated that at least 100,000 American children are exploited through forced prostitution or pornography each year.
In just one 72-hour sting led by the FBI over the summer of 2013, over 100 children were rescued, and 152 pimps were arrested (including 4 alleged pimps from the Twin Cities).
Is trafficking an issue of concern here in Minnesota?
YES. The FBI lists Minnesota in the top 13 states with a high incidence rate of child prostitution, and it is ranked as the 4th fastest growing sex trafficking market in the U.S.. It is estimated that, each month, at least 213 girls are sold for sex through the internet and escorts an average of 5 times per day (not including street or gang activity). It is also estimated that on any given weeknight, 45 girls are sold for sex through the internet and escorts.
Watch this investigative reporting piece from Kare11 to learn more and see an undercover sting by St. Paul Police.
How well is Minnesota responding to the trafficking issue?
While Minnesota has taken some good steps to stop human trafficking, much remains to be done. In their joint 2014 scorecard, American Center for Law & Justice and Shared Hope International gave Minnesota a “B” based on 41 key legislative components that must be addressed in states' laws in order to effectively respond to the crime of domestic minor sex trafficking.
Here in Minnesota, since 2011 sexually exploited youth have been added to Minnesota's Child Protection Code, and as of 2014, sexually exploited youth age 17 or younger are considered as victims in need of care (not delinquents).
Is trafficking an issue of special concern for states, like Minnesota, that border other countries?
YES. A recent report to the Minnesota Legislature explains “between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year… The State Department also estimates that between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year.”
When Griselda was 13, she was returning home from church with her mother when a man got out of his car and grabbed her. One month later, IJM rescued Griselda and arrested all three of her perpetrators.
Orphaned at age 5, Kumar started working at a brick factory at age 7. Along with the other workers, he was often tortured by the owner. Since being rescued by IJM, Kumar is now in school applying himself to his studies.