The first time I became fully aware of human trafficking was on a date night, watching Liam Neeson's Taken. The movie tells the story of a teenage girl who travels to Paris with a friend where they are kidnapped by an Albanian trafficking gang and held at a house where the gang prostitutes women. The movie follows Liam Neeson's character (who just happens to be a former CIA operative) as he tracks down his daughter and avenges her kidnapping with some killings along the way. Fortunately (as is the case with most block-buster movies), the daughter is found and the family continues on with their lives.
Aside from the violence, language and some far-fetched reality, I distinctly remember watching the movie and feeling so sick at the fact that human trafficking is very real. Happy endings and having a parent as a CIA op are generally not the norm for many victims who have been captured or sold into slavery.
The reality is:
There are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history, with an estimated 27 million (more than the population of Australia) in bondage across the globe. Men, women and children are being exploited for manual and sexual labor against their will.
The average age of trafficking victims is 12 years old. Women and children are often kidnapped into the industry or sold into it by family under desperate circumstances. The average age of victims continues to grow younger as clients seek "fresh" product. (From A21 campaign).
These statistics are absolutely sickening. And there is so much more I could write about how this breaks my heart - and those of my fellow writers here at Life on a Hill, but there are just not enough words that could convey the harsh reality of human trafficking.
Statistics like these often leave us feeling helpless and wondering what we can do. How can we, in our eloquent suburban lifestyles, make a difference in the lives of those affected by the trafficking industry? The reality is that we have two choices:
1) Do nothing.
2) Do something.
But what can we do?? What can we do to somehow make a difference in the lives of those whose freedom and dignity has been snatched away from them?
I know, I know - doing something stretches us. It makes us feel uncomfortable. It makes us wonder if what we're doing is the right thing or even enough. We might think that any contribution we make to helping others will never be enough, and so we give up before we start. Not all of us can go and be the 'hands and feet' to those caught in the midst of the trafficking industry, so what's the point, right? Will our efforts even be noticed or make an impact?
We at Life on a Hill have asked these same questions. But, we believe that we have the potential to make a difference. And while it may seem small compared to the enormity of the trafficking statistics, we know that we can't just sit by and turn our backs.
You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know. (William Wilberforce).
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice. (Proverbs 31:8-9).
So, what are we going to do? How can we speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves?
We all have a story to share - a story of rescue, transformation, forgiveness and grace. We all have a story of how God has picked us up from our darkest moments and brought light into our lives. And it is these stories we need.
Life on a Hill are producing an ebook - a collaboration of testimonies in order to impact and encourage others in their walk and/or those who are yet to hear the Good News. This ebook will be sold and all money from the sales will go directly to the A21 campaign. (You can read about A21 here).
We have found freedom in Christ, and we would like you to get on board with us to help bring freedom and transformation to those whose lives have been destroyed by slavery and trafficking.
If you are interested in being involved in this project, or if you have any questions, please send us a message (via comment, the contact form or email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 82:3,4).