I was scrolling through Instagram when a story stopped me in my tracks. This was what I read:
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PART 1/2: “Emily” was 6 months old when she was advertised for the first time on Craigslist to be raped. Her middle-class family had a film studio set up in their basement. They discreetly advertised that any buyer could come to their home and sexually abuse her. The family would film it, and then sell that video for more money online. When they were eventually caught 4 years later, they said they liked that model because there were two ways to make money: the buyers would pay them to come to their home, and then hundreds more would pay them online for the video footage. Emily was rescued when she was 4 years old and immediately placed with a loving family to begin healing. We cannot let these vile acts happen to the most innocent among us. We must RISE UP and fight for these vulnerable children. JULY 30TH is #WorldDayAgainstTrafficking. Text HELPTHEM to 51555 TODAY to join us in the fight this month. Will you stand with us? #RISEUP
Every emotion came as a flood as I read that story: anger, heartbreak, sadness…it is just so shocking, horrifying, to know that there is so much evil in this world.
In 2013, the General Assembly of the United Nations dedicated a day to raising awareness about human trafficking, the situations of the victims involved, as well as how to promote and protect their rights. July 30th is the official day that the General Assembly chose to make World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
I cannot sit by and think that others will speak up, others will help, others will spread awareness. I need to as well.
Human trafficking is defined as the “exploitation of a person through force, fraud or coercion for labor or commercial sex against their will. While it is most often associated with commercial sex, trafficking can take many forms, including child labor, domestic servitude and migrant working. Victims include men, women and children from all backgrounds and walks of life. It can happen anywhere: in homes and on the streets, in factories and mines, and on fishing boats and in fields.”1
Five Types of Human Trafficking
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center states that the World Day Against Trafficking of Persons raises awareness for five different types of human trafficking2:
1. Forced Labor – when human beings are forced to work for no pay or under the threat of violence.
2. Bonded Labor/Debt Labor – slavery in which an individual is compelled to work in order to repay a debt and cannot leave until the debt has been paid off.
3. Sex Slavery – when women, men or children are exploited in the commercial sex industry, which may include: prostitution, pornography, erotic entertainment, strip clubs, online escort services, hostess clubs, residential brothels or fake massage parlors.
4. Child Slavery – when children under the age of 18 are forced into child labor, which could be debt bondage, armies, prostitution, domestic work or other forms of hazardous work.
5. Domestic Servitude – when slaves are forced to work in extremely hidden workplaces and have no option of leaving.
The International Labor Organization estimates that traffickers make more than $150 billion in profit annually. According to the latest global estimates, 152 million children are in child labor and 25 million adults and children are in forced labor, including in global supply chains. One in four victims of modern slavery are children.”3
Whether it is the trafficking of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the exploitation of Central American migrants bound for the United States, the sexual enslavement of women and girls in Europe, or the forced labor of sub-Saharan Africans or refugees from the Middle East, desperate families and individuals often feel they have little choice but to risk exploitation in an effort to survive.UNICEF
- In the United States, California has the most trafficking reported, followed by Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Georgia.4
- Estimates suggest that about 50,000 people are trafficked into the US each year, most often from Mexico and the Philippines.5
- In 2018, over half (51.6%) of the criminal human trafficking cases active in the US were sex trafficking cases involving only children.6
- Reports indicate that a large number of child sex trafficking survivors in the US were at one time in the foster care system.7
Texas is ranked number two in the country for human trafficking. Dallas ranks second in the state. Human sex trafficking accounts for over 314,000 victims in the state of Texas alone every year, this includes nearly 80,000 who are minors. 400 teens are sold on the streets of Dallas each night.8
One predator can abuse an estimated average of 100-200 children in a lifetime.
In 2018, the National Human Trafficking Hotline identified 2,108 victims in Texas, 701 traffickers, and 399 trafficking businesses located in Texas. Further, there were 719 sex trafficking cases, 118 labor trafficking cases, 89 sex and labor trafficking cases, and 74 unspecified human trafficking cases in Texas.
While these figures are shocking, they represent only a small glimpse of the whole picture. These statistics indicate only reported cases. Many, if not most, cases are not reported. Victims rarely come forward on their own because they fear retaliation by their trafficker and because they may not even know that they are victims of a crime.Texas Attorney General – Strategic Plan 2020
North Texas Statistics
The North Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking (NTCAHT) states that in North Texas, people are exploited at construction sites, farms, homes, restaurants, hotels, factories, and many other places.9
It is not just the impoverished that are sold into slavery and trafficking. According to Traffick911, a Dallas-based organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking, the average age at which girls become victims of prostitution is 12-14 years old. And one out of three youth in the United States are at high risk for being approached by a pimp within 48 hours of running away or getting kicked out of their home.
The Collin County Homeless Coalition Point in Time Homeless Census Report (from April 2019) states the five independent school districts that participated in the Homeless Census were Allen, Frisco, McKinney, Plano, and Wylie. The total number of students identified as experiencing homelessness in the five Collin County school districts at the end of January, 2019 was 1,30010. If taking the statistics mentioned in the above paragraph, that would mean that a pimp or trafficker may have approached about 433 children in Collin County in 2019.
According to ChildrenatRisk.org, there are hundreds of illegal massage businesses (IMB) acting as fronts for human trafficking and sexual exploitation. These businesses are often found near some for the wealthiest neighborhoods and can even be found within walking distance of public schools. According to a 2018 Children at Risk analysis, over 35,000 Texas children attend public schools within 1,000 feet of a suspected illegal massage business, including 4,000 PreK-Kindergarten students. Many IMBs are implicated in human trafficking. The women trapped in these places are made to provide sexual services to as many as ten men a day through force, fraud, and coercion11.
So What Can We Do?
There are many ways that we can fight human trafficking and modern day slavery:
- Raise awareness! Use your social media accounts to spread the word and share other stories to your feed. Use hashtags like #liveunited, #endslavery, #endtrafficking, #worlddayagainsttrafficking, #riseup
- Report! If you suspect someone is a victim of trafficking, the National Human Trafficking Hotline is your best resource. Call the hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888 or text ‘HELP’ to 233733.
- Report missing children or child pornography to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678) or through Cybertipline.
- Join the United Way movement to end human trafficking by texting ‘ENDSLAVERY’ to 51555
- Join the fight with Operation Underground Railroad.
- Volunteer or get involved with a local anti-trafficking organization.
- Demand action from lawmakers and report suspected IMBs.
- Join the Blue Heart Campaign.
- Know your slavery footprint. Whether it is the clothes we wear, the coffee we drink, or the phones we use to communicate, products that we use or consume every day may have been produced with trafficked or slave labor.
- Purchase a ‘Human Trafficking Awareness’ bracelet from Pura Vida. For each bracelet sold, 5% of the purchase price will be donated to Operation Underground Railroad and its mission to bring an end to human trafficking and child slavery.
- Shop Fair Trade companies, like Trades of Hope, a company that is empowering impoverished women and men by providing safe and ethical jobs and pay a fair wage, or Thistle Farms, as well as many other fair trade companies.
- Pray. The power of prayer is incredible! Join others and pray together, pray by yourself, pray with your kids, pray with your church group. God can do amazing things!
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
– Ephesians 6:18 NLT