I can’t think of a more heartbreaking aspect of sexual trafficking than the trauma endured by young children who are used and abused sexually. This is the reality of the sex trade. Innocence lost. Lives imperiled. Hopelessness and despair. Emotional and mental abuse. Lifelong scars. Shorted lifespans.
Blogging with The Exodus Road has been an eye-opener. I remember seeing posters of missing children, some on milk boxes, others in stores and supermarkets. I’d think about them but never made the connection to human trafficking. But the link is there, and very real. Learning more about sexual slavery, especially of minors, has shifted my perspective and made me far more aware of and sensitive to such cases.
Take a look at these statistics.
- Human rights investigators have discovered that minors can be typically sold an average of 10-15 times a day, 6 days a week, totaling between 9,360 and 14,040 sex acts a year. The minors receive none of the money from this activity. (Source: Shared Hope International)
- According to the California Child Welfare Council, kids as young as 10 are being peddled for sex every day in Los Angeles County. The average life expectancy of children who enter the sex trade is seven years. This means, on average, a child forced into prostitution at age 12 will be dead by 19. (Source: Daily Breeze article by Christina Villacorte)
Is it all doom and gloom? In the big picture… well, the very thought of 21 million persons enslaved worldwide today is mind-boggling. Trafficking is the most lucrative criminal activity, surpassing even the international drug trade. A business raking in $32 billion each year would make any sane person’s head spin. So those who have no qualms about selling, using, and abusing children for profit are spurred on in their sickening enterprise by the pile of money to be made.
I often think of Luke 17:2 and Jesus’s indictment of those who harm His little ones, whether spiritually or physically:
“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”
And the millstone is being hung. Take, for example, the recent sentencing of a 23-year-old in California who tried to lure a 13-year-old into trafficking. And a trafficking ring that included minors in Houston was recently broken up. The ringleader was a 66-year-old woman!
B U T…
We all can do something, no matter how small the act. Making a difference could look like:
- Talking about modern-day slavery whenever an opportunity occurs. The new movie 12 Years a Slave is a great jump-off point for such conversations.
- Learning more about trafficking statistics in your city or town.
- Sharing posts like this one on your social media sites.
- Reading up on trafficking on the websites of organizations committed to ending slavery, such as The Exodus Road, The A21 Campaign, Abolition International, Stella’s Voice, and Polaris Project.
- Funding the fight against trafficking. The Exodus Road’s Search and Rescue challenge is a case in point. If an 8-year-old could donate half the profits of his first novel to support victims of trafficking, surely we can come up with ways to put our money to work to bring sex slavery to an end!
In an opinion piece on CNN yesterday, Polaris Project’s Bradley Myles shared tips on how to serve as a 21st-century abolitionist:
All of us can help create that moment of opportunity: Learn about modern slavery and recognize its signs. Share the national hotline number and post fliers in places where vulnerable populations might see it. . . . Urge your elected leaders to pass stronger anti-slavery laws that crack down on traffickers and protect survivors. Support efforts nationally or in your community that are building a movement against modern slavery.
Which of the five ways of making a difference regarding sexual trafficking appeals to you the most? How will you be intentional about making a difference in the lives of young victims of sexual slavery?