Human Trafficking or modern day slavery as it has been called, is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, according to the US Department of Justice. The International Labor Organization estimates that “of the 21 million in forced labour 70% are in forced labour exploitation and 22% are in forced sexual exploitation.” US Dept of State estimates that between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year. In America alone 18,000 foreign nationals are trafficked into our borders each year.
But this is not a foreign problem that is washing up on our shores. Every state that has a major metropolitan area, an interstate, and/or a porous border will be affected by human trafficking. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, has estimated that at least 100,000 kids are sexually trafficked each year in the United States. According to the FBI, “an estimated 293,000 American youths currently are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation.” The Polaris project explains that the average age of entry into prostitution for girls is between 12-14 and for boys it is between 11-13. This means that approximately 75% of those in prostitution started as children. In light of this reality, it is no wonder that the National Institute of Justice states that 4,000 teens at any given moment are being sexually exploited in NY.
At this point, you are probably thinking, "what can I do?"
Here are 12 ways that you can start fighting human trafficking right now!
1) Become Aware of the problem. First, you can take the US State Department’s Human Trafficking 101 training. This training will give you a basic understanding of the problem. To learn more you can read books that address the issue.
To find out what is happening in your own backyard, you can: 1) go to slaverymap.org and 2) Set up a Google alert to receive current human trafficking news. These two steps will keep you up to date on everything that is happening in your community.
2) Be a conscientious consumer. In other words, we can fight exploitation through “good stewardship.” Stewardship is not simply being thrifty. It is spending responsibly with a realization that your resources are God-given. We can fight human trafficking through the marketplace as we use our purchasing power for good. Check out the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. Encourage companies to take steps to investigate and eliminate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains and to publish the information for consumer awareness. Your dollars effect how ethically these companies do business.
To know how we create a demand by our consumption habits, go to slaveryfootprint.org. This survey will show you how many slaves are working in order for you to live comfortably.
However this is not the only way to bring social change, you can also make it a point to buy ethically sourced products. Look for the fair trade and direct-trade certified labels as you buy coffee and chocolate. For more information, check out welogoff.com.
Another way is to purchase products that are made by human trafficking survivors. The Nomi Network provides economic opportunities for survivors and those at-risk of human trafficking in Cambodia and India. As you purchase their signature "Buy Her Bag Not Her Body" products, you are purchasing freedom.
3) Become aware of what creates the demand. The problem of global slavery originates with... us. Whether it is through our consumption of food, clothing, or pornography, our actions create a demand for exploitation. Are we depending on material goods and pornography for satisfaction rather than Christ?
It becomes a vicious cycle. In essence, our slavery to sin drives modern day slavery. Therefore the first step to seeing people set free is to be set free from what binds you. Repentance of sin and relying on the substitutionary work of Christ on our behalf alone can set us free to fight injustice. If we desire to stand against exploitation, we must stand on the Gospel.
4) Prayer is absolutely essential to see God bring justice to our communities. Encourage your church and small groups to begin praying strategically for the weak and vulnerable overseas and across the street. Ask God to give you eyes to see and ears to hear the cries of the poor and oppressed. Pray over areas in your neighborhood that are known in the community for prostitution and other forms of exploitation. But if you pray, be prepared because the God of Justice will answer.
5) Start a bible study on justice. Spend a month studying justice from a biblical perspective.
6) Make People Aware. There are several ways that you can bring awareness to those around you. 1) Host an awareness event to watch and discuss a recent film about human trafficking. 2) Post polaris project Human trafficking hotline posters in your community. 3) Order free awareness materials to post in visible areas in your community. 4) Bring a speaker to your church: check out raleighsadler.com for more details.
But did you know that you can also fight trafficking while you shop online at no cost to you? Smile.amazon.com gives .5% of what you spend back to the charity of your choice. Take a few minutes and select Restore NYC. With each purchase Amazon will donate a certain amount to Restore to assist them in caring for survivors of sex trafficking.
8) Join the fight through fundraising. Raising funds is another way to fight exploitation. Feel free to be creative with your fund raising. The Nomi Network encourages people to use their birthdays as a way to bring freedom. Some other examples include: organizing a 5k run, an art show, hosting a house party, an email campaign, and/ or a yard sale.
9) Learn to identify victims. According to the 2013 TIP report of the approximately 27 million victims worldwide, only 46,000 were identified last year. Since victims do not usually self-identify, it is our responsibility. Learn the signs and red flags of human trafficking. As you see these signs, you can report them to the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888 or text “Befree”.
10) Prevent future human trafficking by directly caring for those vulnerable to human trafficking. Volunteer with local homeless shelters, children’s homes, domestic violence organizations, and anti-human trafficking organizations in your community.
11) Use your voice to contact your local, state, and national political representatives. Sign or start a petition. Change.org has several live petitions currently addressing human trafficking. You can also directly email your government representatives.
12) Be creative. Whatever your gifting, You can use you skills and abilities to fight trafficking. For example if you are a teacher, a law enforcement officer, a medical health professional, or a lawyer, you can speak up for those whose voice is not heard.