While attending a recent leadership conference I learned more about the sickening human trafficking industry that is gripping the world at an alarming rate. ‘Human trafficking’ is the recruitment (by deceit or abduction), transport or receipt of people (mostly women and children) for the purpose of exploitation.
The growth of this is astounding. The UN estimates 1-4 million people each year are moved through labyrinths of horror into backroom hideouts across the world, where many of them are used as sexual objects. It is illegal in many countries around the world, but that does not seem to be stopping its acceleration. At present, estimates are over 27 million slaves are lost. 27 MILLION!
The abuse of these individuals include prostitution, sexual exploitation, labour, slavery, servitude or the harvesting of organs.
I heard the story of a young girl who was taken from her home, and placed in a transport container for an oversees trip with 60 other girls. By the time the ship landed, half of them had died of suffocation, because the air vent in the container had malfunctioned. The remaining were exhausted, weak, and ill. They were herded onto a boat which would take them to another port. On the way, a coast guard was sited, and in panic, the traffickers threw the girls overboard with flimsy flotation devices to avoid detection. Most of the girls could not swim, and succumbed to the waves. By the time the rest were pulled from the water, less than a dozen survived.
Other stories are so heart wrenching that I would be at a loss to effectively portray them.
The conference speaker made a statement that resonated in my mind for days. “I can’t believe this is happening on my watch.”
On my watch! 2010! The horrors of historic slave trade have always seemed so distant to me. I am a friend of a woman and her husband who run a youth centre in Tanzania. She has shared with me the events that took place in history, the activities that took men, women and children from their homes in Africa, to a new world of terror and bondage. These stories are horrendous, and it has always given me some degree of comfort to think that the world has shunned these acts of dehumanization.
But I was so wrong! The more I research this heinous activity, the more I am shocked, and then disgusted.
I am the mother and step mother of five beautiful, amazing, precious teenage girls. And when I think … when I imagine … the horrors of little girls around the world, I hope that this knowledge will change my life and call me to some action.
At the very least, I am committed to learn more, to educate myself and my children, and to spread the word. Victims around the world need our help. Please find out more, please consider how you might get involved. For humanity sake, let us work towards humanity together.
You may find out more on these websites:
Website devoted to fighting human trafficking. The A21 Campaign stands for abolishing injustice in the 21st century.
An online cooperation network of world regions to combat the issue of human trafficking.