*Warning: some content may be disturbing
Today is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. I do not pretend to understand the evil that exists in human trafficking or other forms of modern slavery, but I know too well that the intensity of this problem and the tangled web it has created in the fabric of societies, cultures, relationships, and individual lives can leave us feeling paralyzed.
I’ve been learning that it’s not enough that my heart breaks at the reality of human trafficking. It’s simply not enough. I wholeheartedly believe that we need to call out this pervasive problem and reveal it for what it is – evil.
The International Justice Mission shares the following on its website:
- Human trafficking generates $150B annually
- There are more than 40 million people in slavery today (more than ever in human history)
- 1 in 4 victims of forced labour slavery is a child
- 2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade
I really want to challenge the picture you might have painted in your mind right now. The reality is that human trafficking has wrongly become an industry that sees daughters being sold by their fathers and making more money from the transaction because of their virginity. The reality is that 30-50 million files of child pornography are traded every day, which includes children as young as infants. The reality is that this isn’t just happening in poverty-stricken countries, it’s happening right here in Canada, in our communities. The reality is that narcotics are often used to further dehumanize and abuse victims. The reality is that sex trafficking doesn’t stay behind closed doors; uncountable occurrences of rape, sexual abuse, and coercion that take place through sex trafficking are filmed, distributed online as pornography, and are used to profit an industry that not only permanently and severely hurts the individuals being abused, but that also hurts the millions upon millions of individuals who have easy access to viewing this content online.
But we don’t like to talk about it. I don’t like to talk about it. If I could walk away from my laptop right now and stop writing, I probably would. This is a difficult and painful reality that always leaves me feeling intense anger and immense despair – all at once.
I hate, absolutely hate, that this evil exists. I hate every part of it – I hate it from the perspective that women and men are seen as objects to be purchased – completely dehumanizing them and insulting their inherent worth and value as individuals loved for and cared about deeply by God. I hate that there are so many individuals being taken advantage of, trapped in this vicious and horrendous cycle of abuse, and I hate even more that there are people profiting from this.
The reality of human trafficking is one that I struggle with because there seems to be so little hope, but there is hope. Job 12:22 says, “He uncovers the deeps out of darkness and brings deep darkness to light.” I believe that God calls His people to be a vessel for helping to achieve this on earth: Proverbs 31:8-9 – “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy,”; Isaiah 1:17 – “Learn to do good; seek justice; correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause,”; and Micah 6:8 commands us by saying, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”.
I know that when it comes to issues like this, the problem is rarely acknowledging that it actually exists, the problem is how paralyzed we feel when it comes to taking action. You can click here to view a Resource Guide (including a beautiful bracelet company I’ve come to love) that I will be continuously updating as I come across additional organizations that are playing unique roles in fighting against human trafficking.
The Worst Thing We Can Do
It’s not the first time this has been said, but the worst thing we can do is to say and do nothing at all. We need to be engaging in the conversation, educating ourselves even when it’s hard and uncomfortable, partnering with organizations who are taking on this fight, and praying for justice.
My prayer on this day comes from Amos 5:24: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”