Bridges of Grace: Writing Wrongs……One Sentence at a time
Last week our church screened the recently released film ‘Veil of Tears’. This was about the plight of women in India. India is a beautiful country, however the plight of women over there is a great concern. Veil of Tears was a very moving and powerful film, covering difficult topics such as poverty, female infanticide, child abuse, and the dowry system. Just this week I viewed an image on social media of a picture of two young girls in India who had been murdered. It was one of the most disturbing images that I have ever seen. So much so that I do not wish to elaborate, but many of you may have seen this disturbing and heart breaking image also. One of the most disturbing issues the film Veil of Tears raised was the trafficking of young girls.
Many of us know that trafficking goes on. And many of you will know that there are more slaves in the world today, than there have been at any other time in history. This is a sobering and growing issue that is affecting every corner of the globe. Well known New Zealand celebrity Petra Bagust was interviewed about her recent trip to Nepal. She wears the abolitionist title proudly, and is asking society and the church to be brave, and to speak up, to rally and advocate for the abolishment of this evil. It is such a horrible haunting issue that it almost would be easier to pretend that it doesn’t exist. There are so many issues that demand our attention in the world today. But this just might be one of the most concerning.
Every year thousands of people are targeted, especially those from poor countries who are exonomically vulnerable. It is not just young girls. Thousands of men, women and children who are mostly falsely recruited for some job or the offer of better lives in other countries. Masters prey on vulnerable individuals often enticing them with brighter opportunities. They are then transported, transferred, harbored or received by crime groups through use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them. Every year an unknown number of people fall into the hands of traffickers, both abroad and in their own countries. This crime affects virtually every country in the world, whether as a place of origin, transit or destination for victims. Sadly, human trafficking is one of the fastest growing vices because of its high profits. This is because unlike other commodities like drugs, humans can be sold repeatedly.
What is trafficking? Consider some facts about trafficking:
- There are an estimated 4.5 million in sexual exploitation
- There are an estimated 14.2 million in forced labour
- There are an estimated 2.2 million in state imposed labour
- Not only are humans sold at market, but their value price is plummeting. In in the South of America in 1850 a slave sold for the equivalent of $40,000 in today’s terms. Today, children are often sold to traffickers for around $70.
- Trafficking involves force (physical restraint, violence, rape, confinement), fraud (false promises, lying about work conditions and posing as a false agency or job) and coercion (threats or blackmial, confiscation of passports or making person afraid of seeking help).
Common afteraffects seen in children include:
- drug and alcohol dependencies
- depression and anxiety
- post-traumatic stress disorder and other symptoms of trauma
- suicide attemtps and deliberate self-harm
- unplanned pregnancy
- health complications
- prostitution in adulthood
- pressure from family to provide income
Although the sale of humans was legally abolished in every country by 1981, slavery still exists, not because any person is legally a slave, but because there are still slave masters and traders. Trafficking is not a fight against prostitution, but slavery. And it even goes on in New Zealand.
What do organisations such as Love146 do?
- Survivor Care
- Prevention Educations
- Professional Training
- Empowerment Movement (advocating for the abolishment of human trafficking).
You can read more about their work at their website http://www.love146.org
Here are some other organizations that are doing something about this pervasive evil –
Tear Fund (www.tearfund.org.nz) has launched Project Act. See http://www.projectact.
The A21 Campaign: http://www.thea21campaign.org
Compassion International: http://www.compassion.com
Not For Sale: http://www.notforsalecampaign.org
Freedom For Innocence – http://www.freedomforinnocence.org
There are many more organizations out there.
Slavery No More – http://www.slaverynomore.org
How can we take action ?
After first learning about human trafficking, many people want to help in some way but do not know how or where to start. Here are just a few ideas that you may wish to think about:
- Learn the red flags that may indicate human trafficking, so that you can help identify a potential trafficking victim. Many of the websites listed above have detailed information on human trafficking awareness training.
- Be a conscientious consumer. Discover your slavery footprint and encourage companies, including your own, to take steps to investigate and eliminate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains and to publish the information for consumer awareness.
- Incorporate human trafficking information into your professional associations’ conferences, trainings, manuals, and other materials if appropriate.
- Join or start a grassroots anti-trafficking coalition.
- Meet with and/or write to your local, government representatives to let them know that you care about combating human trafficking and ask what they are doing to address human trafficking.
- Distribute public awareness materials available from some of the websites listed above.
- Volunteer to do victim outreach or offer your professional services to an anti-trafficking organization.
- Donate funds or needed items to an anti-trafficking organization.
- Organize a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an anti-trafficking organization.
- Host an awareness event to watch and discuss a recent human trafficking documentary. On a larger scale, host a human trafficking film festival. I have recently seen the film ‘Trade of Innocents’.
- Encourage your local schools to partner with students and include the issue of modern day slavery in their curriculum.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper about human trafficking in your community.
- Start or sign a human trafficking petition
- Businesses: Provide internships, job skills training, and/or jobs to trafficking survivors. Consumers: Purchase items made by trafficking survivors such as from Jewel Girls or Made by Survivors.
- Students: Take action on your campus. Join or establish a university or secondary school club to raise awareness about human trafficking and initiate action throughout your local community. Consider doing one of your research papers on a topic concerning human trafficking
- Pray. If you believe in prayer – please pray. What does God require us to do? To love justice, to love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). And to pray. Prayer can move mountains. See http://www.aheartforjustice.com to download a prayer guide specifically to pray about trafficking. NZ organisation Nvader also has a section on prayer.
- Blogging. If you are a blogger, consider blogging to advocate and raise awareness of this issue. I have joined the CompassionBloggers network, to blog about the valuable work that Compassion International does. I am not aware of any blogging network specifically to raise awareness and promote the abolition of human trafficking, and so I thought that I would start the ‘Bridges of Grace Bloggers Network’ to blog for awareness of human trafficking. It’s about writing wrongs…..one sentence at a time, and promoting the work of organisations that are working in this area. If you are a blogger with a passion for this cause, then please contact me or copy this button and paste it into your site.
- Put your money where your mouth is. I want to also use my blog to raise funds for this cause and you can make donations on my fundraising page here: http://donate.love146.org/latteslacedwithgrace. This is an American organisation, whereas I am based in NZ, however this is a global issue and this organisation cares for trafficking victims from many different countries.
This issue has really been on my heart recently. I’ve always had a heart for justice, although when I was at university I wasn’t one of the hard core social justice types like some of my friends were. But this issue is just so horrifying that it has moved me and I feel compelled to do something, even if it is something on a very small scale. Together we can partner with organisations who are breaking the chains and building bridges for enslaved individuals, bridges of grace that are pathways out of slavery and into liberty and freedom. Will you join me?