January 20, 2011
I’m going to be attending the Freedom Summit this weekend. It’s a faith-based conference on human trafficking. I wanted to take just a moment to give an overview on the immense problem of human trafficking.
- The total market value of illicit human trafficking is estimated to be in excess of $32 billion. (U.N.)
- Children below the age of 18 years represent between 40 to 50% of all forced labor victims. (International Justice Mission)
- Approximately 80 percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls. (U.S. Department of State)
- According to Wikipedia, human trafficking “is now the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Globally, it is tied with the illegal arms trade, as the second largest criminal activity, following the drug trade”.
- Also from Wikipedia, the United States State Department estimates that “600,000 to 820,000 men, women, and children [are] trafficked across international borders each year, approximately 80% are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors. The data also illustrates that the majority of transnational victims are trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation.” Due to under-reporting, it’s difficult to estimate the number of people who are being victimized. The promotional material for the Freedom Summit states that there are 27 million slaves world-wide. Staggering.
Educating myself about the subject of human trafficking is just the next step in my journey. It’s related to my interest in Fair Trade. Indeed, there will be a lot of people from the Fair Trade movement at the conference, along with International Justice Mission. When you hear about people selling their children into slavery, they’re usually doing it because they don’t have other viable options to take care of their children. I’m not excusing a person for selling their child. What I’m suggesting is that when people have other options, they probably won’t choose to sell their child. When you provide a way for people to make a living wage, it makes everyone in their family less vulnerable.
Usually, when I’m confronted with evil on this scale, it overwhelms me. It leads me to grief and tears and sadness. But, what’s beyond that? Anger is a part of that journey, but I don’t want to stop at anger. Hopefully, anger and a sense of justice lead to some good. The anger prompts us to do something about the problem. So, I want to open myself up to that process. That process of learning about this particular evil and then seeing where it leads in terms of what I can do. I’ll keep you posted.