The Horror of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking. It is truly the stuff of horror stories, and difficult to believe that it happens to millions of people every day. But it does. In every corner of the globe, people are recruited, coerced, and exploited by predators for financial or personal gain.

As an illicit industry in the shadows, it’s nearly impossible to get an accurate count of the number of people who are modern slaves. Still, estimates put that number at more than 40 million people, with almost 25 million in forced labor and sex trafficking and more than 15 million in forced marriage. 

While anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, women and girls are more likely to be enslaved, accounting for more than 70 percent, with men and boys making up nearly 30 percent. In addition, both children and adults can fall prey to traffickers.

Alone, Desperate, and Vulnerable

Circumstances of birth can make innocent people vulnerable to trafficking—teens aging out of orphanages, people escaping violent and dangerous situations, families living in abject poverty desperate to survive, and disabled individuals who are easily manipulated and exploited. People in these situations—alone in the world with no money, no family, and no shelter—often have to rely on what they mistakenly think is the kindness of strangers only to find themselves in the clutches of traffickers.

Victims of human trafficking are frequently lured by false promises of a well-paying job, a stable and loving relationship, or educational opportunities. While they share the trait of vulnerability, victims have diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, varied levels of education, and might be documented or undocumented.

The Many Faces of Human Trafficking

Human sex trafficking probably gets more notoriety, but there are various forms of human trafficking.

  • Forced Labor

Millions of people are forced to work under the threat of violence and for no pay, treated as property, and exploited to create a product for commercial sale.

  • Bonded Labor

Individuals in the millions are compelled to work to repay a debt and cannot leave until the debt is repaid.

  • Child Labor

Millions of children under 18 are held in any enslavement—whether forced labor, domestic servitude, bonded labor, or sex trafficking.

  • Sex Trafficking and Prostitution

Millions of women, men, and children are forced into the commercial sex industry and held against their will by force, fraud, or coercion.

  • Forced and Child Marriage

Each year millions of girls are forced to marry without their consent or against their will before the age of 18.

  • Domestic Servitude

Employees working in private homes are forced or coerced into serving and fraudulently convinced that they have no option to leave.

The Health Consequences of Human Trafficking

In addition to the heartbreaking lives experienced by trafficked people, there is growing evidence on the health impact of human trafficking. Unfortunately, just as it’s challenging to get a concise count on the number of people trafficked, the only data available regarding the health concerns of trafficking is from those who have managed to escape. 

For example, one study found that most trafficked people experienced violence and hazardous, exhausting work and that few emerged without longer-term, sometimes disabling physical and psychological damage.

An Uncomfortable Truth

Human trafficking is a global problem. The numbers are daunting, but every number represents a human—a child, man, or woman—who is treated as a disposable commodity rather than a human being. 

It’s not a subject we want to think about, let alone discuss, but if we don’t insist on having those difficult conversations, human trafficking will continue to live in the shadows and out of the spotlight. Unfortunately, the unrelenting glare of the spotlight is the only way to combat human trafficking.

We Can All Help End Human Trafficking

The sheer magnitude of the issue may make change seem impossible. But, while we can’t all be on the front lines wielding weapons against human trafficking, collectively, we can make a difference. We can give a voice to the voiceless and provide hope to those in need. God commands us to love others. One of the most simple ways to love is by helping when we see someone in need. 

“Open your mouth for the mute, For the rights of all the unfortunate.”—Proverbs 31:8

Hope and efforts to develop robust support systems to help keep survivors free from further abuse are possible. Meet some of our kids and read about their stories. There are so many ways you can help. Make a contribution or purchase our collection of clothing and books to offer direct support. Even simply sharing the message with friends, family, and associates can help.

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble – James 1:27

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