Human trafficking. The words sicken me. It is a real and growing problem; not only in other countries, but in the United States. We still live in a country of slavery. “Federal law defines domestic minor sex trafficking as the exchange of a sex act for anything of value.” (traffick911.com) There are an “estimated 27 million victims of human trafficking around the world.” (International Mission Board 2011 Week of Prayer Guide) 100,000-300,000 of these victims are in the U.S. “Within the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex alone, more than 250 girls are bought and sold every month as slaves in the sex market.” (Benjamin Hawkins, “Students Fight For the Abolition of Sex Slavery,” http://texanonline.net/news/students-fight-for-the-abolition-of-sex-slavery, 2011) Texas is a hub for human trafficking because of its roads, ports, and boarders. Children at risk include runaways and unwanted children, but all children are in danger. “Gangs and the Mexican cartels are sending recruiters into Texas schools to find victims.” (traffick911.com) Children are being kidnapped. “The average life expectancy for a child forced into sexual slavery is 7 years.” (traffick911.com) Women are victims too; especially in other countries. Children, however, are certainly “the face” of human trafficking in America. (warinternational.org) With any major event in a city, the epidemic of human trafficking escalates. An estimated 12,000 minors were transported to the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the 2011 Super Bowl held in Arlington for the purpose of prostitution. I am tired of reading and knowing these statistics without action on my part. I remember hearing about human trafficking. I would read something in a Christian forum and feel heart broken. I wanted to do something, but had no idea what I could do. Several weeks ago, God began convicting my heart to just educate myself on the subject. I needed to be aware and make others aware as best I could. I realize that I am not going to end human trafficking, but I can be involved, actively, in the fight against it. I want you to join me! What can we do? We can educate ourselves! We can get involved!
Here are some signs that Traffick 911 notes as red flags to look for in human trafficking victims:
- Scripted answers.
- Inconsistencies in story.
- Branding or tattoos, especially that reflect ownership or money.
- Bruising, with varied stages of healing with black, purple, blue, yellow shades.
- Cigarette burns, rope burns, scars, cuts or other physical abuse.
- Coming on to several men.
- Appears helpless, shamed, nervous.
- Inability or fear to make eye contact.
- Chronic runaway; homeless youth.
- Dating much older, abusive or controlling man.
- Not attending school or has numerous school absences.
- Sudden change in attire, possessions, behavior.
- Travels to other cities frequently.
- Uses terms common to the commercial sex industry.
One of these signs may not mean a child or woman is a victim, but two or three of them together is cause for alarm. If you are out and see this in the mall or a store, suspect it in your own community, or whatever the case, call 911 and the National Human Trafficking Hotline. There number is: 1.888.373.7888. It is better to be cautious than to let a human trafficking victim go unnoticed. I must note: It is not our job to determine the guilt or innocence of a person. It is our job, however, to report suspicious behavior; to be responsible citizens and children of God.
Here are some other practical ways to get involved:
- Prayer. It sounds small, but Christ honors the cries of His people. Here is a prayer guide offered by World Crafts from there Set1 Free Program. World Crafts Set1 Free Prayer Guide
- Volunteer. If you are in the Fort Worth area, Traffick 911 offers volunteer opportunities. Visit traffick911.com, click on the “Take Action” tab, and then click “Volunteer” to find volunteer opportunities, learn about the volunteer process, and fill out a volunteer application.
- Donate. Give of your time and/or money. Here is a wonderful, free way to get involved! There are fabulous opportunities to host product parties that help women at risk for or freed from exploitation. The proceeds from these events provide income to these women who live in poverty. Poverty is a huge variable in human trafficking. World Crafts and Women At Risk, International both offer these events. Visit http://worldcrafts.org/theme-set1free.asp to learn about how to host a Set1 Free party, or http://www.warinternational.org/index.php?option=com_giving&view=programs&layout=item&id=4&Itemid=1100 to find information on how to host a jewelry party for Women At Risk, International.
These are simple, easy ways to make your life count in the battle against human trafficking. There are endless resources out there. I am going to close, however, by including the websites for the three most helpful resources I found thus far. As always, thanks for reading!
*All of these organizations can also be found on facebook.*
“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor, He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”