(A word of caution as you begin to read this post, the content and the subject matter discussed is not for the faint of heart. Please refer to the end of each post for references and applicable links. Lastly, do not shy away from the emotions that you feel as you read, rather, allow yourself to turn emotion into action.)

About two years ago I was first introduced to the world of Human/Sex Trafficking, I say introduced because in my mind these are things that had been abolished many years before, in America slavery ended with the 13th Ammendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865 and much earlier in the French Colonies (1848) and British Empire (1833). While slavery was a cruel and evil practice, it was a practice that was rather easy to identify the key participants involved and enact proper legislation and measures to abolish it’s existence. Human/Sex Trafficking is completely different, completely sinister, completely discreet and ultimately a pure form of evil unknown to most people today. While I know that many of my readers come from different countries I am writing from my American perspective which I understand can be rather shallow and narcissistic at times evidenced by the fact that I just recently “discovered” the existence of Human/Sex Trafficking. My apologies in advance as I try to navigate through an understanding of this dark, evil world.

Two years ago my church held an end of the year campaign for IJM, International Justice Mission. IJM is a U.S.-based Christian human rights organization that rescues victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery and oppression.1  During this end of the year campaign our congregation was exposed to the truth of Human/Sex Trafficking. It is very real and it is flourishing at a phenomenal rate worldwide. In fact, after drug dealing, Human/Sex Trafficking is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world today, and it is the fastest growing.2  The fastest growing! Meaning, left at it’s current rate it will soon outpace illegal drugs as the number one criminal industry in the world! Armed with this type of information the church was moved to donate a substantial sum to help support IJM’s work throughout the world. Some good had been done and now I could rest I thought…”I wrote my check and did a good deed, what more do you want from me?” Unfortunately, this type of thinking is allowing the Sex Trafficking industry to grow at it’s astronomical rate and as more people turn their heads the industry will continue to flourish.

Perhaps flourish is an understatement. Human/Sex Trafficking has a total market value that is estimated to be above $32 billion!3  If every church in the world gave their yearly offering toward this I doubt we could even come close to the number of $32 billion!

Let me take a moment to share with you some more of the global statistics; there are nearly 2 million CHILDREN in the commercial sex trade with an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children trafficked across international borders annually! Additionally, 80 percent of Human/Sex Trafficking victims are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors!4  To put this into perspective for you, IJM has to date freed more than 1,000 people from the Sex Trafficking industry a number that is to be applauded and celebrated. Yet, this makes up less than half a percent of the total children in the commercial sex trade industry today!

Globally the numbers are grim but the United States can no longer say this problem is a third-world epidemic. Domestic numbers estimate that 18,000 to 20,000 people are trafficked into the US annually while Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves5   estimates that there are “30,000 to 50,000 sex slaves in captivity in the United States at any given time.”6  In it’s newly developed biennial study, the Department of Justice recently released (April 2011) it’s “Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2008-2010.”7  From January 2008 through June 2010 there were over 2500 reports of Human Trafficking investigated and the numbers revealed are shocking. Of the 2500 incidents 82 percent (2065) were classified as Sex Trafficking, and more than 1,000 of the incidents involved the prostitution or sexual exploitation of a CHILD!8 Furthermore, of the 2065 Sex Trafficking incidents 83 percent of the victims were United States citizens! What makes these figures even more shocking is the fact that these are only those cases we know about, as this comprises of only 10 percent of the estimated sex slaves in the United States.

One final statistic that cannot be overlooked, from the DOJ’s 2007-2008 report to the current reports information the number of incidents has more than doubled. The more we look into the closet the more bones we see are piling up.

Statistics though do not have faces…

(This topic is too important for you to miss the next post! Click on the “Sign Me Up” button on the left of this page to be notified by email. Stay tuned to hear the story of Andrea, who at 4 years old was thrust into the world of sex trafficking…)

1 http://www.ijm.org/

2 IJM Sex Trafficking Fact Sheet: Http://www.ijm.org/downloaddocument?gid=1

3 IJM

4 IJM fact sheet

5 http://www.freetheslaves.net/

6 Peter Landesman, “The Girls Next Door,” NY Times, January 25, 2004.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/25/magazine/the-girls-next-door.html?pagewanted=all

7 Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2008-2010

http://www.bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/cshti0810.pdf

8 CSHTI, 1.

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