In recent months numerous people have contacted the Beverly LaHaye Institute (BLI) and Concerned Women for America (CWA) for information on how an individual may become involved in the fight against human trafficking. It is encouraging that people are becoming aware of the problem and wish to get involved.
This article will give you some ideas about how you may help. It will also list resources on the Internet that provide extensive information about the subject. The CWA Web site, as you know, provides relevant and timely articles about issues and concerns related to sex trafficking, as well as the latest research information.
The first step is to understand the scope of the problem. The 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report states: “In the 2004 Report, we used U.S. Government data that disaggregated transnational trafficking in persons by age and gender for the first time. This data shows that, of the estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women, and children trafficked across international borders each year, approximately 80 percent are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors. The data also demonstrated that the majority of transnational victims were trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation. With a focus on transnational trafficking in persons, however, these numbers do not include millions of victims around the world who are trafficked within their own national borders.”
Second, become familiar with the language of sex trafficking and able to differentiate the terms that refer to various aspects of it. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act broadly defines sex trafficking as involving a commercial sex act that is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or is a situation where the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age. It is important to be clear regarding the three different legal parts of the definition:
“Sex trafficking” means the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.
“Commercial sex act” means any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.
“Coercion” means (a) threats of serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; (b) any scheme, plan or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or (c) the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.
To read more about sex trafficking, please see the recently updated section on BLI’s home page, the U.S. Department of State’s 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Rescue and Restore Project’s home page, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s trafficking page.
Third, find out if there are ways to get involved locally by checking the Rescue and Restore Project homepage. There you will find information about projects in your area where you may be able to volunteer. If projects are near you, find ways that your church and local civic or women’s groups can help.
Fourth, and most importantly, as I wrote last month, the most effective weapon an individual can use is prayer. We encourage you to pray for the work of CWA/BLI and our “Bridge Project.” We are working in partnership with five nongovernmental organizations in Mexico that are combating trafficking there. We would also welcome your financial contribution to CWA’s sex trafficking initiatives.
Fifth, once you have researched the subject, spread the word. Raising awareness is a major step in the fight against sex trafficking. Consider speaking to your civic association, your church, your family, your friends and your neighbors. If they do not know the problem exists, they cannot help you to fight it in your region.
Sixth, understand that the dangers of trafficking do not stop at your front door; the Internet allows pornographers and abusers to exploit trafficked women and children for show and profit through computers and into your home. Also, be wary of Internet threats to you and your children. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a section on its Web site about sexual exploitation.
Finally, take a stand against our culture’s acceptance of prostitution. Alarmingly, music, movies, radio and television regularly promote and glorify the “pimp and ho” culture. Even a clothing line for infants promotes the pimp lifestyle and denigrates women. Is that the life you want for your son or daughter, brother or sister, father or mother? Nor should we accept it as a viable work option for others.
Without demand, trafficking and prostitution would not exist. Are the johns in your area being arrested for breaking the law, or are only the prostituted women and girls? Giving johns a pass normalizes this deviancy.
These are ideas for how you can get involved in anti-sex-trafficking efforts. The resources listed here are but a few of the many available. Each of these sites will give you links to others. Use them to educate yourself and others about signs of sex trafficking in your area, and you will be a part of the anti-sex-trafficking community.
Brenda Zurita is Coordinator for CWA’s Crossing the Bridge Project.
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