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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Human Trafficking: Set the Captives Free

Please welcome back Rev. Marty Troyer, pastor of Houston Mennonite Church: The Church of the Sermon on the Mount. The following post is adapted from his blog on, and continues the BTSF conversation on human trafficking (See post Human Trafficking: Still Enslaved). 

There are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in human history. Here are some basic facts about modern day slavery and human trafficking: 
  • Human trafficking is the third largest criminal industry in the world (with the first and second being drug trafficking and arms trafficking).
  • 27 million persons are victims worldwide.
  • 18,000 people are brought to the U.S. per year in some form of human trafficking.
  • 30,000 are trafficked through the U.S. on their way to other countries
  • 244,000 US minors are trafficked within the US into some form of sexual exploitation.
  • 1.2 million children are sold into sexual slavery each year.
  • 80% of victims are female with a disproportionately high number women of color.
  • 50% of victims are children under the age of 18.

But thankfully, there are those among us who are doing as the great Hebrew text suggests, “proclaiming liberty to the captives.”

The Houston-based theocentric non-profit Free the Captives “engages and mobilizes the Christian community and partners with non-profits, law enforcement, and government agencies in the fight against modern day slavery.” Their annual 'Reducing the Demand' campaign letter-writing campaign urges local city officials to target buyers (usually male) rather than the prostitues they hire. Research has shown that men who are buying sex overwelmingly already know these woman have been trafficked. 'Reducing the Demand' thus focuses on public exposure and increased jail time as the primary deterrent, not simply education. They believe:

The primary solution to end trafficking is through reducing the demand for it. Sex trafficking is a rampant problem in Houston, enslaving both international and native Houston girls and women. It is an economic issue of supply and demand. There will always be a supply as long as there is a demand for sex trafficking!
All of the traffickers and pimps can be arrested and all of the victims can be rescued, but as long as there are buyers, who are typically men, creating a demand for young girls and women, new traffickers are more than willing to provide a supply of new girls, new slaves. Human trafficking is highly profitable. Therefore, to effectively fight human trafficking you must reduce the demand and hold the buyers responsible for their actions.
Submit your own letter here.
Your work can be effective in bringing liberty to the captives. According to the Union Baptist Association, Houston and Dallas together saw 109 domestic minors freed in 2010. All were victims of sex trafficking. But keep in mind what they say on their site, “The State Department’s 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report explains that the number of victims identified reflect only 0.4% of the victims actually in existence.”

Clearly the issue of Human Trafficking has caught on with young Christians, particularly Evangelicals. Go deeper and connect with the abolitionist work of Pastor Omar Garcia, Houston Rescue and Restore, Ted Law and the Access Church, or The Coalition to Abolish Human Trafficking. If you’re in an area church, check out anti-slavery resources in your own denomination, such as the Union Baptist Association, The Catholic Church or Mennonite Church, USA.

God invites us to join this creative work and follow Jesus in carrying out his mission: to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom to those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18). May it be so for us all.

Think about Marty's words in the context of Brittany's post
How do race, poverty, nationality, and gender interact to target certain people for trafficking? 
Starting with the , what are some basic actions you can take to combat human trafficking? 

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