Human Trafficking: An overview
The UN Defines human trafficking “as 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.” To put it simply, human trafficking is the exploitation of vulnerabilities for commercial gain. For this reason, Let My People Go’s mission is to mobilize the church to fight human trafficking by loving those most vulnerable.
To better understand the impact of human trafficking, here are 15 key facts that you need to know:
- It generates $150 billion dollars annually.
- Like any other “business,” it functions on the law of supply and demand.
- Over half of those “supplied” globally are women and girls.
- Trafficking happens as people are compelled to work by “force, fraud, or coercion.” To be considered human trafficking, the aforementioned “means” must be clear, except in cases of those under the age of 18. Click here to download a resource that will further explain how power and control are used to manipulate potential victims.
- Globally, it is estimated that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking.
- Human trafficking affects all 50 states in the U.S. as well as every country in the world.
- Victims of human trafficking are hidden in plain sight. They are everywhere, even in church.
- In America alone, it is estimated that between 14,500 and 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into our borders each year.
- Not all human trafficking is for sex. Actually, 68% of victims are trafficked for forced labor, while only 22% are trafficked for sex.
- Often times, we come face to face with trafficking victims without even knowing it. Many are trafficked within the construction, service, hospitality, and tourism industries.
- Believe it or not, the movie, Taken, is not entirely accurate. Not all victims are kidnapped by strangers, instead they are exploited by those whom they trust.
- The “chains” that hold many victims captive are not physical but emotional, and psychological. This is often referred to as “traumatic bonding.”
- It has been estimated that between 75-95% of those in prostitution were sexually abused as children.
- Approximately 1,200 illicit massage parlors are open just in New York City (which, by way of comparison, has some 2,500 bars and nightclubs, along with 280 or so Starbucks).
- Generally, traffickers target those who are most vulnerable and ANYONE can be vulnerable.
These numbers and statistics can be overwhelming, paralyzing even. In his book A Walk Across the Sun, author and LMPG advisor Corban Addison writes: “Someone once asked Mother Teresa how she dealt with world poverty. Do you know what she said? ‘You do the thing that’s in front of you.” This is what we mean when we talk about “being compassionate on purpose.”
We intentionally focus on the needs in front of us and see where God leads us. With this in mind, read Nathan’s story.
Questions for small group discussion
What shocked you? Why?
Where does trafficking occur? How do you find out?
This afternoon, your group will be engaging in and documenting conversations with vulnerable people. Through these conversations, you will learn to understand and reach those most vulnerable in the local church and community, to effectively proclaim and demonstrate the gospel.
Keep in mind, you do not know who is or is not vulnerable. Sometimes we have a tendency to “screen” or “stereotype” those that are vulnerable. You really don’t know until you talk to someone what types of vulnerability they face. The only way to know is to have a conversation with them.
As your group talks and engages with “community stakeholders,” each of you in your respective groups has a significant role to play:
- Navigator: You will guide your team throughout the city. You will use “CityMapper” or “Google Maps” to make sure that everyone arrives safely on site all week. Today, you will find and locate the church, where you will begin, in your assigned neighborhood.
- Recorder: Your job is VERY important. You will take notes of locations that you visit and people you have conversations with. Please include facts about the setting in your notes. We strongly suggest that you use your phone to take notes AFTER you leave a place of business or a conversation with an individual.
- Researcher: Your job is three fold: 1) You will keep your eyes open for opportunities as you are walking through each neighborhood. 2) You will use google to find potential areas where people are being exploited. 3) You will be paired with the Project Leader throughout the afternoon as you research social service providers and take notes after leaving conversations with these providers.
- Prayer Leader: As you find potential places of exploitation, you will lead the team in prayer. Please keep your eyes open and pray nonchalantly.
- Project Leader: The Project Leader for each team needs to be the most professional. As the Project Leader, you are responsible for representing Let My People Go in the most professional manner. The Project Leader will be the face of LMPG as you speak and meet with NGO’s, social service providers and law enforcement.
Role-play Practice: How to Approach People in Conversation
-A note: Be prepared for people to rush past you, or not want to answer your questions. People are usually wary of strangers asking them questions. So, a welcoming smile, a friendly wave, all break down those walls that we all have initially. Don’t take it personally if 10 people refuse to stop and talk to you, and 1 does. Make the most of your conversation with that 1 person. If the Lord wants you to minister to that 1 person, then that’s what we should do!
- Be sure to always be in a group–small groups are less intimidating, but you should never be alone. For this reason, we break groups down into groups of 5, with at least one male in each group.
- Be sure to approach with welcoming body language. Smile, and start with a generic greeting. “Hello! How are you today?” “Hi! Do you have a moment?”
- Offer something to the person you’re having a conversation with. If you’re approaching a homeless person, offer them a nutrigrain bar, or water bottle. If you’re approaching a person working a restaurant, buy something or contribute to their business in some way.
- Ask them your first question: “We are working with a local anti-human trafficking nonprofit, Let My People Go, asking people about the needs they see in their community. What needs do you see in your neighborhood?”
- If they are willing to answer, thank them! “Thank you so much for that answer.” “That’s very illuminating.” “Wow, that’s good to know.”
- Ask a follow-up question. “With regards to that need, what local churches or organizations are working in your community to meet that need?”
- Ask the final question. “What ways would you like to see your community improve?”
- Thank them for their time, and wish them a good day! Then, record the conversation to the best of your ability (recorder, this is your job!)