Fighting traffick

Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. – Isaiah 1:17

It’s been a little while since I’ve written about human trafficking, so I think it’s time to correct that. You won’t often find them on the front page, but mainstream media stories about human trafficking (which is the legal term for modern-day slavery) are around.

Did you see this story this week?

“Chicago police investigated pimps alleged to have forced dozens of underage girls into prostitution. Nine people were charged last week with ‘involuntary sexual servitude of a minor.’”

Do you remember the Illinois Safe Children Act, about which I wrote just over a year ago? Provisions from it aided the investigation.

“The case marked the first time Chicago police could use wiretaps in a prostitution investigation.” Those wiretaps enabled police to “listen in as the pimps arranged ‘dates’ for the victims, beat a girl and made death threats against their prostitutes.”

That’s ugly and hard to read, I know. But I firmly believe that if we are to fulfill our calling as justice advocates – a calling epitomized by the above words* for the people of God from Isaiah – we must be willing to face the harsh reality of evil in the world and name it as such.

But facing and naming, as important as they are, only go so far, right? How might we extend our advocacy…what can we, you know, do?

  • Pray. Regularly include trafficking victims in your prayers. Pray for their rescue and for those attempting rescues. Pray for justice: relief and recovery for victims and successful capture and prosecution of the slave holders. Pray for all of us – you, me, our church and the church universal – to have the courage to end slavery in our time.
    (I know, I know. That’s quite the unoriginal response. None of these are new ideas. Doesn’t make them any less necessary though.)
  • Be aware. For instance, CNN is in the midst of a yearlong, multifaceted investigation into modern-day slavery, which they call The Freedom Project. You could explore their site and then subscribe to their blog.
  • Raise your voice. Local news outlets such as Patch and Trib Local always seem to include a police blotter (see here or here) With some frequency, that blotter includes stories of women arrested for prostitution. But you know what I have yet to read? Accounts of pimps arrested. While Chicago police and Cook County Sheriffs and State Attorneys are making use of the Illinois Safe Child Act and going after pimp/traffickers, it seems our local officials are still focusing on arresting those who are trafficked.
    Granted, our local officials may be in the midst of investigations into the pimp/traffickers that just haven’t resulted in arrests yet (I really hope that is the case). In the meantime, let’s keep the pressure on by braving the comment sections of those news sources (watch out for trolls) and asking them to investigate the trafficking angle of the story.
  • Recognize labor trafficking. Sex slavery gets most of the recourses, news and outrage. But labor trafficking happens as well. Change.org has excellent human trafficking writers who do a good job of reporting on both sex and labor slavery. Read, sign petitions that move you, and recruit others to do the same.

Obviously, this is nowhere near an exhaustive list of actions we can take. But it’s a place to start. (Or continue, as the case may be.)

Next we’ll look at upcoming events as well as how we can help get the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) passed through Congress.

What else? What tools, resources and actions are you or your organization using to fight modern-day slavery?

*This verse from Isaiah is just one example. There are literally thousands of verses all throughout the bible about social justice.

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