Like most of the world, I’m horrified that a monster kidnapped and abused three girls (my daughter’s age when taken) in Cleveland. Join me in praying for these girls, their children, and their parents. The road ahead of them is long.
I held my daughters a little closer and prayed for Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight (names matter– they are real people, not objects).
A Global Reality for Millions
I cannot help thinking about the fact that this is, well, a horrible reality for several other families across the world. Yes, it is unusual that a man kidnapped and help hostage in this manner in a major American city, but kidnapping and sexual slavery is not unheard of– it is shockingly common around the world.
You just don’t hear about it because it is done as a business and not as a news story playing out on global television. But sexual slavery is a very real occurrence every day– and it is not what many people think. And, though trafficking may not have been involved here, it is deeply connected to such crimes globally.
As the FBI explains,
Many people probably remember popular movies and television shows depicting pimps as dressing flashy and driving large fancy cars. More important, the women–adults–consensually and voluntarily engaged in the business of prostitution without complaint. This characterization is extremely inaccurate, nothing more than fiction. In reality, the pimp traffics young women (and sometimes men) completely against their will by force or threat of force; this is human sex trafficking.
Let’s consider some stats and solutions.
What are the Facts?
First, some stats about this horrible reality.
Millions of men and women are enslaved around the world. Many experience sexual victimization as part of that enslavement.
Exact numbers are hard to pin down. (which makes sense, since traffickers do not want people to know.) However, it would not be unreasonable to say that millions of people are trapped in sexual slavery right now– and many millions more are slaves.
The State Department puts out a helpful document each year and cited a number of 4.5 million people, mainly women and children, trapped in sexual slavery. (The report is worth your time.)
So, as we think of the horror of Cleveland, let it cause you to act to defend girls in Colombia as well.
And in Moldova.
What Can We Do?
Second, here are some ways you can help.
a. Advocate that law enforcement recognize that most prostitutes are the victims and the traffickers and John’s are the real criminals.
b. Stand up against porn. It dehumanizes and objectifies women– as objects are to be used, making sex trafficking more acceptable.
c. Educate yourself and your church. On the Sunday I preached at ChangePoint Church in Alaska, their women’s pastor announced she was joining the governor’s task force on human trafficking. ChangePoint is involved and educating their church— you can as well.
d. Get active in movements that are already engaged including sexual trafficing:
— International Justice Mission
— End it movement (recently profiled on CNN).
The horror those three girls faced in Cleveland is faced by MILLIONS young girls (and boys) around the world. They are just not yet rescued– and are still alone and often feeling without hope.
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