Are you familiar with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America? It states that,
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
This was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the states on December 6, 1865. Yet, today, slavery still exists in America.
President Obama declared January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. For the first time since the end of the slavery in 1865 a U.S. President is drawing awareness to slavery in our nation. In OUR nation. Does that bother you?
It exists and it exists right in our back yard.
- Atlanta is a major hub for human trafficking in our country. – WABE News, Shaomial Ahmade, 10/27/11
- Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises because it holds relatively low risk with high profit potential. -Shelley, Louise. 2010. Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
- Human trafficking, or modern day slavery, is the fastest growing criminal activity in the world today. –US Department of Justice
- The FBI estimates that well over 100,000 children and young women are trafficked in America today. They range in age from 9 to 19.-“Teen Girls Stories of Sex Trafficking in the U.S.” ABC News/Primetime. February 9, 2006. Accessed: December 26, 2010
- Over 30 million men, women and children are estimated to be enslaved in the world today. – Not For Sale by David Batstone
- 200-500 underage girls are raped for profit in Metro Atlanta each month. – Adolescent Girls in Georgia’s Sex Trade: Tracking Study Results. Atlanta, GA: The Shapiro Group 2011.
- 7200 men purchase underage girls for sex each month in Atlanta. 42% of these men come from the upper north side outside the perimeter, 26% from inside the perimeter, 23% from the south metro area, and 9% from the vicinity of the airport. With approximately 3 million adult men in Georgia, 23% have purchased sex with females and 20,700 do so in any given month. –Georgia Demand Study, 2009 by the Shapiro Group, Atlanta, GA.
- The average age of a girl entering the sex trade in the United States is 12 years old. – Domestic Sex Trafficking of Minors, justice.gov/criminal/ceos/prostitution
- Her life expectancy after entering the sex trade is just 7 years. –Shared Hope International, “DEMAND: A Comparative Examination of Sex Tourism and Trafficking in Jamaica, Japan, The Netherlands, and the United States” Sharedhope.org, July 2007
- 90% of runaways wind up in prostitution. – Hidden in Plain View: The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Girls in Atlanta, 2005.
- Many girls are lured into the trade from Internet chat room sites and other forms of social media. – Carol Largent, CSEC Detective, Cobb County, Metro Atlanta, 2010.
- Four-fifths of victims (83%) in confirmed sex trafficking incidents were identified as U.S. citizens. –Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Human Trafficking/Trafficking In Persons”, www.OJP.USDOJ.gov, April 28, 2011.
With a such overwhelming statistics, what can one person do?
It would be easy to feel helpless in this fight against evil, but we’re not. We have a voice and we have the opportunity to
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” [Proverbs 31:8]
While these girls are not voiceless, they are silenced. Until they can speak for themselves, they are counting on us to raise our voices and be a voice for hope. Here are some things you can do today to get involved:
- Get involved. There are organizations across the country on the front lines of this fight and they need soldiers to join them. Click here to see a list of a few to get you started.
- Write a letter to your state and national senators and representatives. Remind them you are their constituent and tell them you want to see tougher penalties for pimps and johns as well as resources provided for the victims of human trafficking.
- Educate yourself. Read a book, like Rescuing Hope, and learn all you can on the issue.
- Tell a friend what you know. Knowledge is never meant to be kept, but shared. Host a dessert and coffee in your home and invite a speaker from an anti-trafficking organization to share about the issue.
- Donate. Donate. Donate. There isn’t an organization in the fight that can’t use financial support, but money isn’t the only thing you can donate. Donate your time by volunteering to hang up hotline posters for Not For Sale or Out of Darkness. Volunteer to work in one of the Wellspring Living consignment stores, Wellspring Treasures, or a Salvation Army store and while you’re at it, donate your gently used clothing and household items for them to sell.
- PRAY! The most powerful weapon we have in any fight is prayer. Pray for those caught up in trafficking. Pray for the detectives who rescue them. Pray for the family members who are searching for a loved one who is caught up in the trade. Pray for the organizations, the counselors, the teachers, doctors and the mentors who work with the survivors. Pray for their safety, for their health and for them to find Jesus in the midst of everything.
You can make a difference. Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. I can’t think of a better day to take a stand against injustice. As Matthew West sings in my new favorite song of his, Do Something!
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