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SOCIETY THAT FIGHTS HUMAN TRAFFICKING
One of the noblest causes that a society can rally around is that of the fight against human trafficking. What exactly is human trafficking? It can be defined as the recruitment, harbouring, transportation and trade of human beings, by force, by coercion or deception for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labour. In human trafficking, authority over a person is given, or sold, for the purpose of exploiting them. That exploitation usually takes the form of prostitution but can include forced labour and even organ removal. Human trafficking does not only consist of the trading of persons to a foreign land but, also, the enslaving of persons in their own country.
The trafficking of humans is the fastest growing criminal industry, worldwide. It is the third largest criminal industry after the illegal drug trade and arms-dealing. It may be as large as illegal arms-dealing. The United Nations claims that 2.5 million humans are trafficked worldwide and the victims come from 127 countries. It has been estimated that between five and nine billion US dollars is made each year from human trafficking, worldwide.
Human trafficking is very deceptive. Many times victims consent to their own involvement, without knowing that they are being recruited into prostitution or forced labour. They may owe a debt that they are attempting to pay off and are put in a position of working, but without having the conditions of paying the debt off clearly defined. In a place of great vulnerability, they end up working endlessly. Often, drugs are used to break the victim's will down further.
Human trafficking most commonly is linked to prostitution. Victims could be runaway teens, homeless persons, powerless minorities, drug addicts or others. Women are lured into this lifestyle by promises of much money, which they would not be able to make in their home country. Many do not even know that it is prostitution that they are signing up for. They may have been told that they would have entry-level legal employment. Once they arrive in the host country, they have their identification removed and they are in a situation that is both dangerous and difficult to escape from.
Child-labor is another horrible form of human trafficking. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 246 million exploited children, aged between five and seventeen, who are enslaved in debt-bondage, forced labor, armed conflict, the drug trade, prostitution, the illegal arms-trade or forced into crime.
Where do the victims come from? Of the estimated 45,000 to 50,000 victims who are trafficked into the United States each year, it is estimated that 30,000 have come from Asia, 10,000 have come from Latin America and 5,000 have come from other regions. One report has Thailand, China, Nigeria, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Moldavia and the Ukraine as major sources of trafficked persons.
What is Canada's involvement in human trafficking? It is estimated that 600 to 2,000 persons are trafficked into Canada annually. It is estimated that 1,500 to 2,200 persons are trafficked across Canada's border into America.
Other nations have shocking records of human trafficking, as well. In Mexico, children are sold for as little as 100 dollars. The African continent is notorious for much human trafficking. In Togo and Benin, young girls are given as slaves in shrines and used sexually. Shrine-slavery is also practiced in Ghana. In Africa, the Aids crisis has claimed so many parents that children from such families often become victims of trafficking. It is estimated that 14,500 to 17,500 are trafficked into America each year. South America is another region which is exploited easily because of its poverty. In Colombia, as many as 35,000 women are believed to be trafficked out of the country each year. Southeast Asia has a staggering 200,000 to 225,000 women and children who are trafficked annually. Most destinations are within their own region, and Japan is said to be the biggest destination in Asia for trafficked persons. India is a huge consumer of trafficked persons. It is believed that 200,000 girls, many younger than fourteen, are sold into sexual slavery there. It is reported that in the Philippines there are an estimated 800,000 women working as prostitutes and half of them are under age. Eastern Europe is said to have as many as 270,000 persons victimized by human trafficking. Western Europe, also, has seen much human trafficking. England has also been involved in human trafficking and, under great pressure from human rights organizations, trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation in England is now illegal, as of 2004. However, this law has rarely been used and by mid-2007 there had been no convictions for breeching this law. The Middle East also has seen a great deal of human trafficking. Syria has been a major centre for prostitution. It is believed that in Syria there have been 50,000 women and girls, from Iraq, who have been forced into prostitution.
What is being done to stop human trafficking? The United Nations has launched some international efforts to discourage human trafficking, putting pressure on states where abuses have been prevalent. Many governments have made laws to punish human traffickers. However, many other governments have not shown interest in this cause. Some governments have only been willing to address human trafficking as it relates to prostitution, but not as it relates to forced, or bonded, labor. The issue becomes contentious for Muslim nations because Islam does allow slavery. In fact, Mohammed, who they regard as a prophet, had slaves. Consequently, objections to human trafficking are sometimes seen as Western civilization trying to impose its values on another culture.
Help is being given to victims of human trafficking by many Christian organizations. There are many transition homes and faith-based counselling programs which are there for women and children who are able to flee the trafficking lifestyle. Exodus Cry is a major international Christian organization which fights human trafficking. They not only work through rescue-home-shelter type ministry but have made a film to draw attention to this crime of human trafficking. Canadian MP Joy Smith has led a large effort to end human trafficking in Canada and has been instrumental in forming the Canadian National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.
What can societies do to fight human trafficking? Christian organizations like Veronica's Voice, Kansas City Broiler Room and Exodus Cry are already doing much to rescue and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking. They can be supported in their work by a caring public. In addition to this, governments can do much to combat this evil if they have the political will, or political pressure placed on them, to do so. Governments can pass laws to punish human traffickers. Laws concerning prostitution are often in place but not enforced. Law enforcement to break up prostitution would go a long way to bringing the situation under control. Beyond this, the age of consent (to sexual activities) should be raised in many countries. This gives prosecutors more power to prosecute human traffickers who take advantage of children and young women. Governments can continue to put pressure on foreign governments who do not take human trafficking seriously, for religious or other reasons. Lastly, governments can, and should, support ministries which are already making a difference in helping victims.
God bless you as you consider taking action in this important cause.
Israel, Charlene. “Not Forsaken: Reaching Sex Slaves in Mid-America.” CBN News, Aug. 28, 2011.
Read more about this issue in the magazine "Faith Today"
Can We Help To Break The Chains?
If you would like more information on human trafficking and how to fight it beyond what we have offered here, I recommend the following website: DefendDignity.ca It is a separate ministry from our own and, as such, does not necessarily support all statements made by this ministry. Visit them today and let them encourage you in taking a public stand for truth.
JOY SMITH BATTLES HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN PARLIAMENT
Joy Smith is the William Wilberforce of Canada. She is a Member of Parliament from Manitoba who has chosen to make fighting and ending human trafficking her primary political mission. It is difficult to study the issue of human trafficking in Canada without coming across her work.The purpose of our mentioning her here is not to endorse a political party or any specific candidate but, instead, to make you aware of her website and her outstanding efforts to end human trafficking in Canada and abroad. There is no other member in federal politics who is pressing this issue with greater intensity than Joy Smith. Her website is full of articles, videos , etc. informing the public about human trafficking and outlining a battleplan to bring it down. Visit http://www.joysmith.ca/default.asp
If you suspect human trafficking call 911, or if you wish to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-8477(TIPS).
VIEW CANADIAN ACTION PLAN
This website will show you what the Canadian government is doing to fight human trafficking. It includes articles, and The National Action Plan To Combat Human Trafficking.