A couple of years ago, a real dynamo of a woman named Christine Caine came to speak at our church about human trafficking. Huh? Hadn’t heard of that. Yet, somehow, it has become the second largest, global organized crime today. At the time, I asked myself, “How did this happen and I didn’t know?” Had I been living under the proverbial rock?
Well, if you happened to be under the rock with me, human trafficking is basically—no, it IS modern-day slavery. And it takes mainly two forms: forced labor and sex slavery. Sex trafficking alone generates $27.8 billion USD worldwide for the bad guys, every year.
Scary stuff, my friends…scary stuff. And unfortunately, it’s stuff you need to know because it can happen to those you love. I wish I was kidding. I wish I was being overly-dramatic. Unfortunately, I’ve been called many things in my life, but “drama queen” is not one of them.
The official definition…(clearing my throat) “Human sex trafficking is commercial sex induced by force, fraud or coercion or if the person performing the act is not yet 18 years of age.” In reality…it’s someone’s daughter, sister or best friend…someone’s child—deceived by a trafficker, kidnapped, or even sold by a relative. Traffickers seek vulnerable people, who are alone or desperate. They seek the young…and innocent.
But, it can happen to anyone. Watch the video In Her Shoes.
It doesn’t happen just to girls with foreign accents. According to a recent FBI report, around 33% of those trafficked in the U.S. are Americans. A law enforcement agent I know, said traffickers lurk around parks, pools and malls (in addition to lots of other places). The average age most children are trafficked? Age 12-14.
Runaways are a particular target. A friend relayed a story to me about how a pimp (who got caught, fortunately) found his targets. He’d hang out in places he knew runaways frequented and go up to a girl and say, “You have beautiful eyes.” If she said, “thank you,” he’d leave her alone. If she looked down, embarrassed, and said, “No, I don’t,” that was the one he would target. Low self-esteem. Simple…cold…and as effective as that.
If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know I volunteer for The A21 Campaign, which was founded by Christine Caine—the woman I mentioned earlier. Christine Caine, herself, first became aware of the growing problem of human trafficking when traveling through an airport in Greece, she noticed numerous, heartbreaking posters of missing women and children. Confronted with staggering statistics, she knew “someone needed to do something”. In 2008, she and her husband founded The A21 Campaign.
The A21 Campaign is an international nongovernmental organization dedicated to Abolishing injustice in the 21st Century and combating human trafficking, which has ensnared an estimated 27 million people in the world, including children. That is more people in slavery than at any other time in history.
I’m proud to be part of The A21 Campaign’s new east coast office here in the States. I intend to give them my time, sweat and whatever brain power I can offer to help shine light on a horrific and GROWING crime. No doubt, I’ll be posting more on this topic, but if you’d like to learn more about it, sooner than that, please visit The A21 Campaign’s website. It’s loaded with info.
If you live in the Charleston area, we are having a Be Her Freedom fundraising event on June 24th. Please check it out!
Yes, I know this has been soapbox day. But, THIS IS IMPORTANT STUFF. If you agree more people should know about human trafficking, please share this post with your friends and family.
I have to ask…before you read this post, had you heard of human trafficking? If you had, what was your impression or vision of it? Did you believe it only happened somewhere else?