By Laureen F. Guenther -
When a brothel in Calcutta, India is raided, a mother hides her seven-year-old daughter in a hole in the wall. Afterward, the mother, blaming the girl for the raid, pours hot wax over her child, and cuts her abdomen many times with a vegetable peeler.
A couple in the Philippines, both anti-trafficking workers, make gradual progress against a certain trafficking organization. The criminal organization kidnaps their child – and sends the child’s body home in a body bag.
As pornography becomes increasingly available in formerly-isolated parts of Asia, an increasing number of little boys are forced into the pornography industry.
These stories were told by panel members hosted after a showing of She Has A Name. Panelists included Andrew Kooman, playwright, and founder of Raise Their Voice; Rachel Hanson, of Mission of Mercy Canada; and Matt Baden, of ACT Calgary, a coalition of agencies and individuals fighting trafficking in Alberta.
The fourth panelist was Norma. Here in Canada, she’s seen children as young as three, four, five years old, given away by desperate mothers, sometimes just to get another fix. Those children are never seen again. In the 1970’s, Norma herself was a victim of child sexual abuse and was lured into prostitution at 12 years old.
27 million women, men, boys and girls – each made in God’s image and loved by Him – are currently exploited as sex workers or slave laborers around the world. Yearly, nearly 2 million more children are forced into the sex trade. Human trafficking is now the world’s third-most-profitable business, following only drugs and arms.
Over half of this trafficking occurs in Asia and the Pacific, but trafficking is also a major problem in North America.
In our own country, so glorious and free, many people live only the oppressive ugliness of a trafficked existence, although the RCMP reports it’s difficult to produce exact statistics. The average age of entry into prostitution is 12 – 14. Here and overseas, children as young as five are forced into the trade.
The RCMP defines human trafficking as recruiting, transporting or concealing people for the purpose of exploitation. Within Canada, trafficking grows when vulnerable children and teens are enticed, kidnapped, or sold. Our country is also a transit and destination nation for trafficking people from elsewhere.
James Popoff, panel chair, urged us not to give in to the “inaction of despair”. There is hope.
There’s hope because neighbors ran for help when the mother beat her child in the Calcutta brothel. Mission of Mercy rescued the girl. Rachel Hanson said with a smile, “We have her now. She’s healing.”
There’s hope because international pressure is motivating formerly-apathetic governments to enact and enforce anti-trafficking laws.
There’s hope because the Canadian government recently enacted the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. The Plan allows the Canadian justice system to prosecute Canadians for human trafficking crimes – even crimes committed on non-Canadian soil.
There’s hope because real-life “Jasons”, front-line investigators, work to rescue people caught in trafficking, and because there are real-life “18s”, trafficking victims, who survive.
And there’s hope because, after 28 years, Norma realized she was worth more than her sexual services. She’s now a member of CEASE, warning children, youth and adults against trafficking, and rescuing women still caught in the trade.
Hope grows as we become informed about human trafficking and open our hearts to the issue, adding our prayers, our concern, and our voices to the fight.
How can ordinary Canadians add our voices to that fight?
• Become informed.
• Pray. The prayers of a righteous person still accomplish a great deal!
• Inform others, including the people in your church. Like the old shampoo commercial said, if you tell two friends and they tell two friends… soon, everyone knows.
• Use the talents you have. Andrew Kooman wrote a play. Carl Kennedy and Evelyn Chew are acting it across Canada. A Canadian choir called Harmony Through Harmony raises awareness and funds through music. Whatever your talents, use them to fight for global justice.
• Educate children and teens about the strategies used by trafficking recruiters, both online and off. Encourage teens to talk to other trusted adults if they’re unhappy but can’t talk to their parents. Teach and model healthy romantic relationships. Monitor the values they learn through movies and games. (Ex. “Grand Theft Auto” portrays prostitution, pimping, and murder as cool.) Encourage schools, school boards and churches to invite presenters like Matt Baden and Norma to educate children, youth and adults about human trafficking.
• Give financially to agencies that fight human trafficking, such as those listed below. (Maranatha News provides this list as a resource, but suggests readers do due diligence before donating.)
• Speak to government officials. Inform them that you’re concerned about human trafficking. Encourage them to prevent and combat it. Applaud them when they fight injustice. MP Joy Smith of Winnipeg, for example, has worked for years to introduce anti-trafficking legislation. Let her know you appreciate her efforts.
• Pray. Yes, we’ve already said this. It’s the most important act and is worthy of repeating. As Norma said, “The army of God moves forward on its knees.” There is no other way.
If you are a victim of trafficking in Canada, call the hot – line 1.866.528.7109 for emotional support or call your local police number for legal action.
If you see a case of human trafficking, call Crime Stoppers or your local police.
If you’re a victim of trafficking in the United States, contact 888.3737.888 or email@example.com
Laureen Guenther lives in Alberta and writes book and play reviews for Maranatha News. Laureen is also a teacher, a special needs ministry volunteer, and a devoted auntie. Read her blog at http://reeniesresources.blogspot.com.
Photo: World Vision’s Trauma Recovery Center provides physical, emotional and spiritual recovery to former victims of sexual exploitation. (Photo by: Seyha Lychheang/World Vision)