Human Sex Trafficking

I usually try and keep the content around here fairly light and encouraging, but today's going to be a little different! For one of my classes this semester we were asked to describe a contemporary American cultural issue and participate in two forms of activism to then hopefully transform this issue. I decided to use my blog as one avenue for activism since I have 200+ followers. I figure it'll reach a decent crowd, and possibly tug on someone's heart. 

I had never given much thought to contemporary cultural issues happening around me, which is somewhat embarrassing to admit, but it's the truth. I know there's a large homeless community in the area, there's major upheaval over the recent budget cuts to higher-ed, and bullying is at the forefront of news reports at least once every few months. While these are all terrible things, nothing really pulled me in, making me feel as though I should dedicate time and research to it. 

Then, one girl in our class mentioned human trafficking. I immediately thought this was something I could pour a decent amount of study into, especially since California harbors 3 of FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas in the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego [source]. This bit of research completely shocked me and I began to feel saddened that these things are happening near home, where people and especially children are supposed to feel safe. There's so many horrific things happening in our world today and it's impossible to be an activist for everything, but something about innocent people being robbed of their lives because some cruel person decided they needed to feel empowered just made me sick. Now I'm not jumping on any bandwagons here and becoming an over night activist, but I do think any opportunity to raise awareness should be taken advantage of.

So with this post, I hope to raise some awareness to a community that may or may not be aware of the horrendous crimes taking place around them everyday. These are silent crimes, but they exist and someone needs to speak on behalf of the innocent individuals who are suffering if this can ever be stopped.

Through research I've found that there are two forms of trafficking. There's both sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

Sex trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act , in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person forced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years [source].

Labor Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery [source].

For the purpose of this project, the majority of my focus will be on sex trafficking.

Most victims are trafficked to the United States from Asia, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe. These victims are subject to force, fraud, and/or coercion in order to get them overseas. One of the most heart breaking factors is that majority of victims can't speak English which in turn means they cannot communicate with law enforcement officials once they come to America. In their greatest time of need, they're at the will of their abductor simply because they can't break the language barrier.

One of the scarier truths I came upon through research is the methods by which traffickers keep their victims here. Some traffickers keep their victims under lock and key. However, the more frequent practice is to use less obvious techniques including:
  • Debt bondage - financial obligations, honor-bound to satisfy debt
  • Isolation from the public - limiting contact with outsiders and making sure that any contact is monitored or superficial in nature
  • Isolation from family members and members of their ethnic and religious community
  • Confiscation of passports, visas and/or identification documents
  • Use or threat of violence toward victims and/or families of victims
  • The threat of shaming victims by exposing circumstances to family
  • Telling victims they will be imprisoned or deported for immigration violations if they contact authorities
  • Control of the victims' money, e.g., holding their money for "safe-keeping" [source].
So I did a little researching and came upon the non-profit, "Not For Sale." I really like what they stand for and if God were to lead me down this path, I would consider partnering with them. On their website they state a few things that will need to change in order to end this slavery. The main thing being awareness. This will come from people acknowledging this hidden crime is present today. It's such a hidden crime right now that less than 1% of victims are ever identified. This needs to change.

"We need to shift to a paradigm that recognizes the possibility of slavery in order to be able to identify it. When the paradigm shifts, a new wave of activists will respond in creative ways" - Not For Sale.

I don't expect that any of you will jump off your couch and become an activist for stopping human sex trafficking, by simply reading this post. I'm not even planning to become a dedicated activist myself because I haven't felt the Lord calling me to at this point in time. But, raising awareness is something I can stand for. I can be reminded of these statistics and support further research. It may seem like there's nothing we can do to stop these things from happening. But there are a few things you and I can both do. Write posts like these to raise awareness. Tweet articles you find using [hashtag]stophumantrafficking. Contact your local church and find out what types of ministries they have to support those trafficked, and if they don't yet have something started maybe you can be the one to encourage it. However, the most important thing we can do is pray. Pray for the victims who are suffering today. Pray for the child whose innocence was taken from them so gruesomely. Pray for the mother who was ripped from her family so unexpectedly. Pray for the man who feels cheated and lost because he must submit to his abductor. These things are happening all around us, and it's easy to forget, but let's remember today. Say a prayer for these victims after you read this post. If that's all you can do, that's okay. There's power in prayer and we need to bring power back to those suffering.


  1. It's so terrible to think that this really happens!

  2. i remember years ago seeing a Dateline, or 20/20 or something about the horrors of human sex trafficking and how prevalent it is in other countries. It's disgraceful and disgusting and i was actually shocked at the insane amount of American men that go over to these countries and PAY engage in deplorable behavior with sex trafficked CHILDREN...they are children. It made me sick to my stomach and it does reach somewhere inside of you that wishes you could save them all or do SOMETHING!! Knowing it's going on so vastly right here in the U.S, especially California is so incredibly sad and heartbreaking. Thank you for posting, I didn't know about the website and company Not for Sale, but now I'm glad I do.