Modern slavery must end! We know this. The new report on human trafficking contains 418 pages crying against this injustice. But what can you and I do about it? Allow me to pull information from the report to provide five practical ways to help end slavery today.
1. Involve your family and friends
The report states, “At its core, the global struggle to combat human trafficking is about political and public will. If ignored, traffickers will continue to reap enormous profits while communities suffer the many toxic effects.”
Don’t ignore modern slavery! The Bible’s story of the Good Samaritan is highly relevant. Don’t walk past the victim of violence. You gotta stop. Here’s how.
First of all, human trafficking is a 150 billion dollar a year industry which includes labor trafficking and sex trafficking. Common to all forms of slavery is victim vulnerability. Wherever we find poverty, lack of opportunity, and lack of access to the rule of law, we find oppressors willing to exploit. If your children are young consider studying the world together. Talk about injustice in other countries. Learn about the challenges. Pray for those working to better systems. The report provides information on every country as a guide. Make some indigenous food together. And play the game Passport to Culture. My wife and I did this with our sons. It was fun and they have a much deeper appreciation of our global community.
Next understand this is absolutely an American issue. Trafficking happens near you. Here is what one girl in the report says, “At first, I thought he was my boyfriend. Then he convinced me to have sex with strangers to make money. He was my pimp. I was 15 years old. I was being advertised on the Internet and sold for sex to support my ‘boyfriend’.” Another story involves Facebook. A 13 year old girl ‘friended’ another girl. She thought nothing of the invitation to come to the girl’s apartment for a job opportunity. Instead men took her photo for an escort website and forced her into the sex trade. I’ve worked with young girls promised modeling careers only to find themselves exploited in the sex trade industry. Help young men and women establish positive self-images and warn against these deceptions.
Be a good neighbor.
Finally, most of us are aware of the danger of massage parlors, brothels, and bars but the report demonstrates traffickers are moving to hotel rooms and private apartments. Watch for suspicious activity. Many of the stories of rescue in the report began with a concerned citizen’s call. Call 1-888-373-7888.
2. Involve church leaders
Several places in the report stress the importance of building communities to work together in ending slavery, including religious communities. Here are some practical steps to take.
Next, churches around the world will take part in Freedom Sunday on September 25, 2016. Join them. Preach about God’s heart for justice. Educate and involve the church in gospel justice for vulnerable neighbors, particularly victims of trafficking.
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Be a good neighbor.
In the United States 51% of victims are citizens, while 49% are foreign born. Most citizens are runaway youth. These youth are often homeless and forced into prostitution as a means of survival. That was Denise. Her story is in the introduction to Gospel Justice. She ran away from a Christian home. Desperate and on the streets she found a pimp which led to drug addiction and homelessness until we met. The church can involve itself with at risk youth. Consider involving the church in housing which is one of the greatest needs of victims. The report particularly highlights the need for housing of young men, as most present housing is only for women.
3. Involve business leaders
The report highlights a need for private sector involvement. We need business leaders, particularly with labor trafficking. Make certain a business’s supply chain come from fair trade. A new global tool exist to make this easy for businesses, ResponsibleSourcingTool.org. Use it.
4. Involve Students
Students can lead in this area. Students care about justice and ending modern slavery. One way to learn and take action is to establish a Justice For All club. This is a student led movement through Gospel Justice Initiative. Resources are freely available. Our groups include high school, college and law school. Another excellent college club is through International Justice Mission.
5. Involve Lawyers
Especially relevant, were references in the report to the lack of access to legal resources. Another challenge is in judges and prosecutors charging victims with crimes or deportation. As the report indicates, “At the heart of human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit a person.” These individuals are victims – not criminals. Without legal advocacy they may be victimized a second time by the legal system with convictions that prevent them from obtaining stable housing or employment. We’ve helped several such individuals.
The American Bar Association recently helped establish The Human Trafficking Legal Access Center to coordinate efforts and provide resources to attorneys. Excellent judicial training and resources are also available through the government.
In March 2016, the Department of Justice changed its policies requiring cooperation of victims to obtain a certification letter for continued presence protection. Generally foreign born victims can obtain some protection through a U-Visa, T-Visa, or Continued Presence status. A certification letter for continued presence or T-Visa provides access to the same resources as refugees. This is critically important for helping victims escape trauma and become stable. Yet these processes are complex. Victims benefit greatly from the help of an attorney. Attorneys help intervene to prevent charges being brought and help with expungement or vacaturs of convictions.
Finally, attorneys and others can lobby for vacatur laws. These laws provide a formal recognition of “factual innocence”. Check this listing to see if your state has a vacatur law. The report recommends advocating for a federal vacatur law to prevent and remove federal victim convictions. Talk to your state or federal congressman.
We’re in this together
Modern slavery affects us all. But together we can make a difference. Consider building a justice community together with us in your church, business or community. Dare to be the Good Samaritan who saw a need and courageously stopped. As stated in the report,
“Should the day ever come when human trafficking ceases to exist, it will not be because traffickers have stopped trying to take advantage of vulnerable individuals. Instead, it will be the culmination of efforts from a global community that refuses to allow it to continue.”
Let’s be part of that community.
What will you do to help end slavery?