Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless.
Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.
You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed,
so mere people can no longer terrify them.
Shaniya Davis. Most of you have already subconsciously responded. Your heart rate is up. There is a lump rising in your throat. Just months ago we were incensed by her story, and rightly so. It was tragic, senseless, and cruel. Her story brought out rage and confusion. How could this happen to an innocent child? How could a mother knowingly and willingly give up her own child to this fate?
The question for me was not how? It was how many? I was struck by how many people seemed to think that this was an isolated, or at least a rare, occurrence. In fact, this story is replayed thousands of times every day. Child trafficking is a huge and persistent problem in our world today. The numbers are astounding and I am sad to say that we are the root of much of the problem. To indulge our insatiable lust, America is the largest market for sex trafficking. To fill discount stores with cheap trinkets the “land of the free” causes millions to work as slaves. We don’t live in a bubble. Our actions affect many others in this world. Should a Chinese child be forced to work so that my child can have a cheap toy on his birthday? I think not.
“The price of a very rich man is many poor ones and peace of mind is worth more than railways and skyscrapers.”
Here are a few eye opening documents compiled by the US government to track human trafficking in the US and around the world:
We deal with child trafficking everyday in our work with the street children of Ethiopia. Like Shaniya’s mother the parents here also tend to give their children up willingly. However, they are ignorant of the fate that awaits them. Desperate parents are tricked by crafty businessmen to give up their children for the promise of a better life. Most of the children here are trafficked within the country. They are taken from their homes in the countryside to work in sweatshops in the city. Many of the children escape the sweatshops only to be trapped on the streets of the city with no way to return to their homes and families. Rescuing these children from the streets is our primary focus.
We are also starting to attack this epidemic at its source. One of the primary goals of the project that Jess and I are most involved with (Click here for our project page) is to give poor farmers the means to better support their families so that they won’t be tempted to turn their children over to the crafty businessmen. We will help farmers be more productive and make more money. We will also provide educational resources for the children to give them opportunities in the future.
There is no easy fix to the problem of human trafficking. However, there are things that each of us can do to curb trafficking in the world. Here are a few ideas:
Stay informed – Ignorance only allows the problem to persist. Learn all that you can about this problem.
Inform others – Be an advocate for the helpless. Inform others about the problem.
Buy responsibly – For heaven sake stop buying cheap junk from China! Whatever happened to buying good old “made in USA”?
Stop exploitation – Sexual exploitation of women and children is a huge part of the problem. Pornography and prostitution are becoming more acceptable in the US. They are not expression they are exploitation.
Give support – Many organizations including our own are working to stop trafficking. We can’t continue our work without your support.