Every time I think about human trafficking, I have to shake my head. How can it be possible that in 2018, there are men, women, and children who are treated like property? The latest number I’ve seen is that almost 25 million people are sold for sex or labor. While most of us think of trafficking as sex trafficking, 81% of individuals are exploited for labor or state-imposed forced labor. Since this is a global problem, the U.N. has named July 30th as World Day Against Trafficking in Persons to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”
Consider the story of Emmanuel and Isaac in Ghana. Emmanuel and Isaac’s mother struggled to care for them and keep them safe. When she could no longer afford to feed her boys, she sold them to a man who put them to work on a fishing boat. This man was abusive, often hitting Emmanuel and Isaac with the boat paddle. Emmanuel and Isaac would often split one meal a day between them. The brothers were able to escape when their trafficker heard authorities were arresting people who had kids working on the boats. Emmanuel and Isaac now live with a neighbor who sends them to school.
Or Raul… When Raul was in high school in the Dominican Republic, he jumped at the opportunity to go to the United States to continue his education. A family friend offered to be his sponsor and hire Raul in his restaurant while Raul attended school. Shortly after Raul arrived in the United States and began attending the local high school, his sponsor pulled him out of classes and forced him to work in his restaurant full-time for less than $1 an hour. The sponsor withheld Raul’s passport, threatened him, and sexually abused him. Raul was forced to live in filthy conditions in the restaurant. After an anonymous call to the national hotline, law enforcement officials raided the restaurant and arrested Raul’s sponsor.
Not surprising, the majority of victims trafficked are women and girls -70% – and shockingly, the average cost of a slave globally is $90.00. According to a September 2017 report from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and Walk Free Foundation, human trafficking earns profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers. So this is big money. It will need all our vigilance to overthrow it. On Monday, July 30, join others around the world to pray and act for victims of trafficking.