BIG PICTURE

Human trafficking encompasses any act in which an individual is threatened, deceived, or forced to perform it. These acts may include hard labor, sexual activities, drug smuggling, and organ harvesting. Because many of these acts overlap with other criminal pursuits, it can be difficult to come up with effective strategies for rescuing trafficking victims and arresting their captors. The majority of trafficking victims are children and young women, often chosen for being defenseless and vulnerable. While some escape and experience healing, millions more remain enslaved in darkness.


CLOSE UP

We may imagine human traffickers as mobsters and villains but most consider themselves businessmen simply meeting the ever-growing demand in the sex trade industry. And their clients are not pedophiles and strangers but people we probably see every day.


CONNECT

Who is one of your favorite villains from fiction, film, or television?
Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life?
Darth Vader from Star Wars?
The Joker from Batman?
Someone else?
What draws you to them despite their villainy?


WATCH

Watch the TED Talk by journalist Noy Thrupkaew, “Human Trafficking Is All Around You.”
LINK

If time permits, you may also want to watch a segment from ABC’s Nightline hosted by Diane Sawyer entitled “Hidden America: Sex Trafficking in the US.”
LINK


EXPLORE

As you can see from these video segments, human trafficking is complex and multi-layered. It remains the fastest growing crime in the world because it encompasses so many diverse issues and criminal offenses. And it’s not just about drug lords and mafia kingpins buying and selling human beings and forcing them into sexual slavery. There are social, political, and economic layers at play in the complicated web spun by human traffickers. 

For example, some Asian cultures consider it acceptable for children to be sold or prostituted in order to provide for their parents. Some countries’ political leaders turn blind eyes to businesses running covert trafficking schemes. And some reputable businesses around the world often buy goods and services without realizing the products purchased directly result from trafficking. 

For us here in the United States, trafficking also collides with the topic of immigration, a hot button issue that continues to be emotionally charged and divisive within our country and its political leaders. However, the men, women, and children smuggled into this country by traffickers inevitably suffer the consequences. They feel caught between the coercion from their captors on one side and the threat of jail time and deportation if they escape.

Similarly, women enslaved by the sex trade industry often view their situation in extremes: they continue suffering their present conditions all the while expecting someday to be arrested and faced with soliciting and prostitution charges, huge fines, and incarceration. While they want to believe there are other ways out, most have reached a point where they no longer trust anyone—especially those in authority. 

Meanwhile, the economics of human trafficking illustrates a basic supply-and-demand model. As long as individuals and businesses can make big money by selling humans for labor, for sex, and for other criminal enterprises, trafficking will continue to exist in some form. As long as men continue to watch porn, go to strip clubs, frequent places of prostitution, and pay for sexual massages, sex trafficking will continue. As long as businesses focus only on their profits and not their ethics, they will pay as little as possible without asking the source for such cheap labor. 

It has to stop. And like any infectious epidemic, the only way trafficking will end is if you chose to help fight the battle. No one person can do it all. But together, individuals, local churches, ministries, and other mission-minded organizations can end human trafficking.


REMEMBER

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV). 

This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place” (Jer. 22:3, NIV).


DISCUSS

1.  What observations or statements stuck with you from watching the videos for this session? What revelation or fact surprised you? Which ones do you question or wonder about?

 

2.  Imagine that you are a judge faced with a group of women brought into your court on charges of soliciting and prostitution. Most are in their teens and none appear to be from this country. With the aid of an interpreter, you learn that these young women claim to have been kidnapped and brought to the U.S. illegally by sex traffickers who continue to control them. How would respond to this situation? What do you see as your options? Which options seem most likely or realistic based on your knowledge of our court systems? Which options seem most Christ-like? So what would you do? 

 

3.  Similar to the situation above, how would you respond to illegal immigrants who have been proven to be victims of human trafficking? Should they be forced to return to their homeland and possibly suffer the same cycle of events all over again? Or should they be allowed to stay under certain conditions? If it’s the latter, what conditions? 

 

4.  What are some ways you can become more aware of the way human trafficking is at work around you? How might such an awareness change your shopping, dining, or living habits? In other words, what can you do personally, right where you are, to defend against the growing infiltration of human trafficking in your society?


WHO C.A.R.E.S.—YOU DO!

Which of the following C.A.R.E.S. areas seem the most challenging for you personally? Instead of focusing on the area that seems most natural or easiest for you, identify the ones that would stretch you the most and how they would challenge you to step outside your comfort zone. 

Coalition:

Example: “I want to be a team player but usually prefer to work independently of others.” 
Other ways this area would stretch you:

Awareness:

Example: “Trafficking is a grim and sobering topic, and I get overwhelmed by so much unsettling information.” 
Other ways this area would stretch you:

Rescue:

Example: “I’m grateful for all those men and women who serve in law enforcement and other agencies to rescue victims of trafficking, but it’s too dangerous for me.” 
Other ways this area would stretch you:

Education:

Example: “Teaching others about the dangers of trafficking is important, but I don’t like speaking in front of others.” 
Other ways this area would stretch you:

Service:

Example: “I wouldn’t know what to say or how to act around victims of trafficking.” 
Other ways this area would stretch you:


PRAY

Ask God to work in the hearts of sex traffickers and those who do business with them. Pray that He would grant wisdom and compassion to leaders, judges, and law enforcement agents having to make tough decisions about the fate of those people caught in the web of human trafficking. Thank Him for the survivors who have experienced His love, grace, and mercy in their lives as well as those people still enslaved by traffickers. As God what He wants you to do—specifically, this week—to help end trafficking.