What Exactly is Human Trafficking? Slavery is Over, Isn’t it?

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?


23 comments on “What Exactly is Human Trafficking? Slavery is Over, Isn’t it?

  1. Yes, I’ve heard about/read about human trafficking before reading this post. But I hadn’t heard about the A21 Campaign. My involvement is limited to financial support of such organizations — I admire you giving time, sweat and brain power.

  2. I had heard of it after spending time in Thailand with YWAM in the mid-90s. Because prostitution is legal there, young girls are sold into slavery far too often. Orphanages are full of unwanted babies and those born with diseases that spread from mother to child during the birthing process
    I love that you are involved in such a great cause, and will certainly find out more about A21 Campaign.
    Bless you heaps as you give of yourself in such a wonderful way!

    • Wow, you really saw it then. I know Thailand is still a big one for trafficking. So glad you want to find out more about The A21 Campaign. It’s a great organization. Sometimes, the problem can be overwhelming, but then, I think…”Well, I can help at least one person. That much I can do.”

  3. Yes, I’ve heard of human trafficking, but I hadn’t heard much or realized the devastating impact on families until God urged me to write a book about it. The statistics still shock me, and I admire all you do for this cause. I’ll be checking out A21 for more information on the organization. Thanks for bringing it to attention!

      • Hi Marney. My novel is titled Ransomed. It’s a Christian fiction story about a young woman who was abducted and forced into prostitution as a teenager. Eight years later amid partial memory loss and total isolation, she escapes, but her captor is hunting her. She must realize her ultimate Savior and learn to trust Him with her life before it ends. It’s a romantic suspense story, and I realize in real life no one in this position would be so quick to trust God or any man, but I love the characters God gave me and the illustration that His love is unconditional, His power unmatched. I’m finishing up the final rewrite from my editor and I hope to release it in a couple of months at the latest. Print and digital. 🙂

  4. Marney, thank you so much for your eager, growing involvement in A21. I was under the same “rock” and actually missed the Sunday at church when Christine Caine spoke. Later, I watched the podcast and my heart ached for the victims of trafficking. I also saw the movie, Taken, and was horrified that this stuff goes on. I am glad for those with big hearts, who can’t sit still and let this injustice continue.

    • An important thing about the movie, Taken, is they show wealthy, American girls as the victims. It can happen to anyone, whatever social position. It really is scary stuff.

  5. In fact, I just heard of it recently. It makes me sick. I’m proud of you for volunteering and being an advocate against this growing crime. Keep up the good work!
    God will Bless you mightily!

  6. Pingback: Forced Labor, Human Trafficking and Mental Health « kracktivist

  7. Human trafficking is indeed a global problem. Americans don’t think it can happen here and sadly, most pay little attention to the horror. Thanks for bringing some attention to the subject. And thank you for stopping by my blog. I appreciate it.

  8. Yes, I have heard . . . deplorable. It wrenches my heart right out of my chest to think of little ones being used for such depraved efforts. How anyone with a soul could stand to see their bodies violated and destroyed, and not only their bodies but their more importantly their souls. You scar a soul and it leaves a permanent mark.

    “Taken” in another movie which I felt expertly shone a light on the grim reality. I watch something like that and I think, no . . . that doesn’t happen. It can’t! But it does, and unless people are willing to shine more lights, it will continue to happen. A21 sounds like an incredibly efficient step in the right direction.

    Thank you, Marney.


  9. Pingback: Work In Progress

  10. My husband is heavily involved with raising awareness for sex trafficking, it is truly awful. Just last month in our little town, a massage parlor was shut down because it was a prostitution house and all the girls were trafficked. A great documentary called Nefarious- Merchant of Souls is a must watch for people interested.

    • Hi Julie,
      I applaud your husband for getting involved with raising awareness of human trafficking. It’s so hidden, people don’t realize it’s going on. Yet, it’s the second largest global organized crime today. Crazy. So glad your town is not standing for it.

      I’ve heard Nefarious is good, but I haven’t gotten to see it yet. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll definitely check it out. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. I had heard of human trafficking, but I thought any that happened in the US involved people (women) taken from elsewhere and brought here to “work”. whether it involves American girls or not, we ought to care because this is a horrific wrong. I hadn’t heard of A21. I’ll look into it.


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