I was on the plane home after leaving my daughter in Australia (where she’d study dance ministry for a year) when I watched the movie, Taken. A bad choice. Really bad timing. I love a thriller, but this one hit too close to home. It’s a story of two American girls traveling in Europe who are abducted and sold into human trafficking. The ex-spy dad violently came to his daughter’s rescue. But not until after the slave auction scene burned into my brain.
The picture of modern day slavery haunts me. It’s not just a movie. It’s reality. And it’s not just in some far off countries but in the US as well.
Here are 5 facts about human trafficking:
1. There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today. That’s the highest recorded number of slaves in history! An estimated 13 million children are enslaved around the world today, accounting for nearly half of trafficking victims in the world.
2. The average cost of a slave around the world is $90. According to estimates, approximately 80 percent of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19 percent involves labor exploitation.
3. Human trafficking is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world, after drug smuggling and arms dealing.
4. The average age of a young woman being trafficked is 12–14 years old.
5. The United States is one of the top three destination points for trafficked victims. California, New York, Texas and Nevada are the top destination states within the country. Immigration agents estimate that 10,000 women are being held in Los Angeles' underground brothels; this does not include the thousands of victims in domestic work, sweatshops or other informal industries.
Don’t let these troubling facts and grim human trafficking statistics overwhelm you.
How you can help
Let this quote by Elie Wiesel inspire you to take action: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.” Refuse to be neutral. Educate yourself on human trafficking issues. Spread the word. Stand for freedom.
An organization that is making a difference is Children’s HopeChest. I got to spend some time with Laura Fisher, VP of Operations, while at the She Speaks conference two weeks ago. Children’s HopeChest was founded in 1994 to meet the needs of orphans in Russia. Children who “graduate” from Russian orphanages find themselves on the street with little or no life skills and often fall into the waiting hands of human traffickers. To help these and orphans in 9 other countries, Children’s HopeChest partners with churches, businesses, and Christian communities by meeting basic needs and providing training and discipleship. To find out more about Children’s HopeChest, visit their website, watch videos, or like them on facebook.
There are many other worthy organizations making a difference. In the months to come, I’ll be highlighting some others and ways that we can make a difference from here.
Some people are “go-ers.” They travel to places around the world, investing their lives into the lives of others. Some people are “senders” providing a way for the “go-ers,” both financially and prayerfully. We can all be “do-ers.”
A new group, Justice Network, is growing in northern NJ. We are supporting the organizations on the front lines of this issue. Our next meeting is Aug. 20. If you want to be a “do-er,” let me know!