Calling It By Its True Name – Modern Slavery
In Western Oklahoma, a pastor notes that the highway that travels past the town of 12,000 where he serves is a major thoroughfare for slave transport. In Ghana, a man promises to educate and care for a group of small boys from a fishing village only to force them into back-distorting labor. In Bangkok, a young girl is tied to her bed. She has no money, no ID, and no way out. She has been deprived of food, clothing, and sleep. Her basic needs are barely met. She is forced to have sex from 10 to 20 or more men per night
In Western Oklahoma, a pastor notes that the highway that travels past the town of 12,000 where he serves is a major thoroughfare for slave transport. In Ghana, a man promises to educate and care for a group of small boys from a fishing village only to force them into back-distorting labor. In Bangkok, a young girl is tied to her bed. She has no money, no ID, and no way out. She has been deprived of food, clothing, and sleep. Her basic needs are barely met. She is forced to have sex from 10 to 20 or more men per night and if she complains or doesn’t comply, she is beaten. At a tattoo parlor in Sacramento, a young woman endures the long process of being “branded” to indicate who her owner is. As a hotel in New Jersey filled to capacity with fans who had arrived to watch the 2014 Super Bowl, the activity on backpage.com spiked as females as young as 12 were purchased online to be delivered to hotel rooms.
Human trafficking furnishes the graphic nomenclature for this modern day buying, selling and transport of children, women and men against their will. These actions focus our attention on how some treat God’s children as commodities for economic gain. Globally there are estimated to be over 30 million modern day slaves. Persons are being lured, abducted and/or coerced to labor for someone else. Whether it is labor trafficking, forced soldiering or sex trafficking, they are made to work long hours under dangerous and horrific conditions.
Trafficking of humans occurs in unregulated and unprotected areas all over the world, including the United States of America and Canada. Although trafficking seems to imply people moving across continents, most exploitation takes place close to home. Data show intra-regional and domestic trafficking are the major forms of trafficking in persons. Often the victims are deceived into believing the situations will improve their lives or the lives of their children. The scenarios vary, the location can be rural or urban, and the reality is the same for all: individual rights are denied and the person is forced into life-long servitude.
A United Nations report based on data gathered from 155 countries states that the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. The victims of sexual exploitation are predominantly women and girls. The second most common form of human trafficking is forced labor (18%). This may be a misrepresentation because forced labor is less frequently detected and reported than trafficking for sexual exploitation. Worldwide, almost 20% of all trafficking victims are children. However, in some parts of Africa and the Mekong region, children are the majority.
Disregard for others as sacred gifts coupled with economic greed fuel this injustice. Domestic and international criminals have made labor trafficking, smuggling, and sex slavery a booming business amounting to over $30 billion annually. They treat a person as an easily replaceable, and therefore, a disposable product. Fresh supply is only a school or street corner away. With more stringent laws against drug trafficking than human trafficking, this grave violation of human rights lacks legislative teeth for prosecution.
President Barack states:
“It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name — modern slavery.”
The one we claim as brother and savior saw the realm of God existing within each person. Jesus invites us to see the other as a beloved member of God’s family, worthy of protection and just treatment. At the 2011 General Assembly, we passed a resolution calling on us as a church to stand in solidarity with human trafficking victims, to act to stop this crime and to work to restore the victims to wholeness. Every time one victim is rescued and becomes a survivor, we can celebrate that God is at work.
Rev. Mary Jacobs and Laverne Thorpe are the president and vice-president of International Disciples Women’s Ministries.