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January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month! Basic info and what you can do

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month by

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month by

With January being human trafficking awareness month, I thought I would start a new series spotlighting different causes.  I will outline some key points regarding what human trafficking is, as well as ideas on what you can do about it.  There are many additional resources listed below that are absolutely fantastic and I strongly urge you to check them out.  Principally, what is human trafficking in a nutshell?

The United Nations defines human trafficking as follows:

“‘Trafficking in persons’ shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;”

That is a lot of words.  What is boils down to is that human trafficking, or modern slavery as it is also called, is the exploitation of another using force, fraud, coercion, or deception.  Human trafficking can take on myriad forms, such as: sexual slavery or commercial sexual exploitation, bonded labor, forced labor, child soldiers, begging rings, organ trafficking, and forced marriage (this is different than arranged marriage).  It is not uncommon for multiple forms of slavery to occur in one place; for example, in a labor camp there may also be sexual exploitation transpiring.  A slave or trafficked victim also has many faces, and this crime can occur anywhere.

Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking: male, female, adult or child (though most are women and children).  And while it can and likely does happen everywhere, popular trafficking destinations are Italy, Turkey, Japan, and the United States.  Prevalent regions people are trafficked from include Eastern Europe, countries of the former Soviet Union, and Africa.  Solid statistics in relation to modern slavery can be difficult to come by.

Since it is humanly impossible to know the existence of every basement brothel or home with involuntary servitude, current statistics on human trafficking must be taken with a grain of salt.  Generally, modern slavery is estimated to be the third largest and fastest growing crime in the world, behind (and often tied in with) the sale of drugs and arms.  Human trafficking is roughly a $32 billion industry, earning more than Google, Starbucks, and Nike combined.  The U.S. State Department estimates of the number of slaves in the world today is 20.9 million.  It’s no wonder why it is believed to be so profitable and prevalent; while a drug can be sold once and then consumed, a person can be sold and abused many times over.  Though it can be nearly impossible to imagine this degree of human rights violation, we must understand the root causes of the problem before we can begin to look at a solution.

Modern slavery has numerous causes, such as but not limited to: poverty, beliefs about sex, the societal roles and value of women, men and children, disease, lack of education, broken families, greed, political and police corruption, supply and demand, and the bottom line is pure evil.  Faced with such enormous numbers and factors feeding into this monster, we can feel completely overwhelmed and despair that nothing can be done to stop it.  But in fact we who are free must do something, even if it is one small step toward change.  The following are some suggestions.

-You can pick one of the root causes of slavery and work to effect change.  For instance, if you are passionate about increasing the quality and availability of education, that will help prevent human trafficking.

-Tell someone about it.  Raising awareness mobilizes other people to get involved.  Not sure how to get the conversation started?  You can wear clothing with end slavery slogans (some can be found here or at many of the websites listed below) and even jewelry made by survivors (you can find some here).  This leads me to my next suggestion.

-Be a smart consumer.  Websites like provide information on which companies have signed a pact to avoid using slave labor in the production of their merchandise.  They also have a form letter you can sign and send to companies who have yet to sign the pledge and urge them to make this a priority.  The Good Guide website also provides ratings for companies’ social responsibility (as well as their environmental and health policies) found at

-Have people over to your house to view movies and documentaries on the subject and discussion.  International Justice Mission has a phenomenal documentary called At the End of Slavery, as well as a list of other movies on their website which can be found here.  You can also host jewelry parties with products made by survivors (resources listed below).

-Support local and international abolitionist organizations with your time, money, and talents (many listed below).  If you are unable to find an organization in your area, start one!  Or encourage your church and city leaders to pioneer one.  If we make it known that it is important to us, it will become important to lawmakers and leaders.

-Learn the signs of trafficking and keep your eyes open.  A list of signs can be found at .  If you suspect trafficking is happening, report it to the (U.S.) National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-3737-888 or text BeFree (233733).

Whatever your expertise or calling, it can help.  You don’t have to storm a brothel to make a difference.  If you have a diseased tomato plant, you can cut off the tomatoes but they will continue to grow back.  It needs to be plucked up by the root.  Any step you take can cause a shift in the paradigm.  And if we can enact change in our sphere of influence, it will spread to those around us.

Thanks for reading.  Leave a comment below with any suggestions of causes you would like to see highlighted.

Links for more information:

Organizations and Websites-


Not for Sale by David Batstone

The Slave Across the Street by Theresa Flores

The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam

Disposable People by Kevin Bales

Child Soldiers: From violence to protection by Michael Wessells

Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen

Movies & Videos-

Call and Response trailer

At the End of Slavery trailer

International Justice Mission Movie Suggestions

Apparel, jewelry, & other products- can be found at most of the websites listed above.  The t-shirt I’m wearing from my corresponding youtube video is from but it is a few yrs old, I don’t see it on the website currently but they have many others. The bracelet I showed in the video is from but I also love

Recognize the signs of human trafficking- U.S. National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline 1-888-3737-888 or text BeFree (233733) or report to your local authorities or International Customs Enforcement


FAAST “Hands that Heal” curriculum

also many of the books and websites listed above

“The LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners;” Isaiah 61:1

My corresponding YouTube video:

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