Today is the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, a day dedicated to renewing the fight against human trafficking. Research estimates that about 25 million people are currently enslaved for either labor or sexual exploitation.
While many factors influence human trafficking, and the fight to end it requires difficult, impassioned work, one of the biggest things we can do to work against and prevent human trafficking is to fight against poverty. Most of the people who are trafficked come from impoverished communities, and this makes trafficking harder to stop because of a lack of resources, attention, and power. People with less financial stability are easier to exploit, and the trafficking industry has taken this into account.
Most of us are not human rights lawyers, and we aren’t in politics or law enforcement. Ending human trafficking isn’t something we can directly instigate. But fighting poverty, for most of us, is easy and we should be doing all we can to help lift our brothers and sisters around the world into more hopeful circumstances.
We can combat poverty in a lot of small ways as we go about our day, but one of the simplest things we can do is to shop responsibly through organizations we trust. We all have things we need to live, and we all have things we want, and every one of these items can be bought ethically if we take the time to look.
If you’re looking for an organization that promotes fair trade, take a look at our Fair Trade Shop. Jesus’ Economy is fighting poverty around the world through our partnerships with many fair trade artisan groups, through our project to Renew Bihar, India, and you can join us to make a change.
Fair trade is amazing and here are just a few reasons why:
But the most important thing is that fair trade improves lives around the world.
When artisans are able to make and sell their products for a fair wage, they have a better chance of providing for themselves and their futures. Fair trade artisans are able to lift themselves out of poverty, which lowers their risk of being involved in trafficking. They are empowered to resist a cycle of fear and begin a cycle of hope.
Human trafficking is a complex evil, and buying fair trade will not eliminate it. But we can do something to fight against it, and if we can do something, we should. We should be compassionate and use our resources and privileges to promote justice.
“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause” (Isaiah 1:16-17, ESV).
Our God is a God of justice, and human trafficking is severely unjust. As believers searching out God’s will, let us seek justice for those oppressed by human trafficking in any way we can.
Since 2010, The White House administration has declared January for the prevention of human trafficking. This is because between 2008 and 2010, the FBI investigated 2,515 suspected incidents of trafficking in the U.S. Human trafficking is seen as modern day slavery and is increasing at a rapid rate both at home and across the globe. Globally, that number skyrockets to a staggering 20.9 million people forced into labor and human trafficking, according to estimates by the International Labor Organization.
Human trafficking can happen to anyone. However, traffickers typically prey on vulnerable populations or "easy" targets such as women and children and those who are runaways, homeless, and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Traffickers are looking for someone who will go with them without a fight whether that's a child or someone in a desperate situation in their life. And the less stable someone's life is, the higher the probability that they'll agree to go with someone under false pretenses such as the promise of a job or relationship.
That's why it's so important we continue to empower people around the world and create jobs so they can lift themselves out of poverty and decrease their risk of being trafficked. Job creation and empowering women is at the heart of Jesus' Economy. It's why we offer handmade, fairly traded products to you in our Fair Trade Shop. It's why we started an empowering women program for women who need help jumpstarting their businesses. It's why we dig wells in remote villages so thousands of people can have access to clean water and stop walking miles to get it.
With our Fair Trade Shop, we can give artisans all over the world a boost by offering their products to the western market and telling their story to a wide audience. Money doesn't just stay in the village anymore, exchanging hands without anyone actually doing better, it becomes international and whole families are lifted out of poverty.
Suddenly they're not choosing between food and shoes or school and walking to get water. It creates jobs for the artisans and allows them to give their family a "normal," stable life with consistent income. More stability means less chance of someone in the family being trafficked because of the promise of a job or lots of money.
Because of our initiatives to empower women, we've seen women all over the world boost their business sales and provide for their families' needs. The more products they sell and training they get, the more empowered they become. Simple put, empowering women who were once impoverished and felt hopeless helps prevent trafficking.
While the celebration of international football during the 20th FIFA World Cup in Brazil has served to stir up patriotism and a spirit of camaraderie across borders, it has also brought to light several disheartening global issues of human rights, specifically sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking is tragic. It’s also a drain on human capital that stands in the way of women empowerment. Women (and men and children) who are victims of sex trafficking have no control over their bodies and capital. And as a result of the tragedies done to them, those who are trafficked have little control over their emotions and mental state. They are dominated by those who are trafficking them, whose goal is to make money off of their victims by forcing them into submission.
Even when a woman is able to leave a sex trafficking situation, she still needs help recovering her identity, so she may flourish in regular society. Some women have grown up in the life and need to be taught to do things like drive a car, write a resume, get insurance, and to even cook. Some will need serious medical attention or to get a passport. And some will sadly be rejected by their communities as unclean.
In terms of the World Cup, people have been debating for years whether there is a correlation between this major sporting event and an increase in sex trafficking. In a country where child sex tourism is an issue, like Brazil, or where prostitution is legal, also like Brazil, it is easy for traffickers to take advantage of the blurred lines defining human rights. Add to these blurred lines an increase in population for the police to worry about, and the distraction of a month long football competition, and you have a recipe for a trafficking fiasco.
Luckily, there are people who are working to combat sex trafficking all over the world.
While we cannot eradicate sex trafficking (or any other kind of trafficking) all at once, bwe can make a gradual impact. We can do so by partnering with various organizations to help establish what are known as the "three Ps": Prevention, Protection, Prosecution.
Together we can slowly, and steadily, raise awareness about sex trafficking and insist that governing bodies set standards—making this issue a high priority. We can partner with organizations that combat human trafficking by volunteering or donating money to care for victims. And most importantly, we can pray. Pray that God would give you wisdom to know what you can do about human trafficking. Pray for your community and what changes can be made to better prevent and fight human trafficking. And pray for the world; pray that the Lord would send Christian everywhere—to make known the good news of Jesus, which in and of itself will combat human trafficking.
This list is by no means comprehensive. It includes four international organizations and two smaller organizations that we (or friends of ours) have worked with directly.
In case you have never read a definition of human trafficking, or want more information, here is the United Nations’ definition:
"Human Trafficking: the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs."
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