World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

Author: Katherina Toews

The women that we work with at Next Step Ministries are more often victims of sexual exploitation rather than victims of human trafficking. There is an undeniable connection between the rise of sexual exploitation and the increase in human trafficking. Which is why we have written this post for you today, on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, in the hopes of bringing the criminal act of human trafficking into focus for you. And to hopefully shed some light on this otherwise hidden subject.

According to Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, human trafficking is defined as the:

Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs

There are approximately 21 million people trafficked around the world (according to the International Labour Organization)

That means that there are some 21 million mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, husbands, wives, and children that are being bought and sold like commodities. Out of those 21 million people, 4.5 million of them are sold for sex. That’s the same as the population of Los Angeles, CA being bought and sold on the street as easily as groceries. Within the umbrella of human trafficking there are five main types of that occur in our world today:

1. Forced Labour (including Debt Bondage, and Involuntary Domestic Servitude)
2. Sex Trafficking
3. Child Labour
4. Child Sexual Labour
5. Child Soldiers

To break things down for you just a little bit further, according to the International Labour Organization, out of those 21 million people trapped in modern-day slavery, 22% (4620000 people) are caught in the grips of sex traffickers, 68% (14280000 people) are forced into private labour, and 10% (2100000 people) are trapped in involuntary state-imposed work. It’s not only the people that we can see out on the streets; it’s everyone who is hidden behind closed doors or in locked rooms, forced to do work they never wanted to do.

Every year $150 billion is made through human trafficking

Trafficking is the fastest growing and most lucrative criminal business in the world. This is because you can only sell a drug once, however you can sell a body hundreds of times. Of that $150 billion, $99 billion comes from the sex trade. Depending on the country and the person that is being bought, a victim of trafficking can be bought for as little as $2.00. However, these people are then sold over and over and over again for the pleasure of others. Whatever price they’re sold for, their lives are worth immeasurably more, and to think that someone is willing to reduce their life and their worth to dollars and cents is sickening.

The sad truth is that people are bought and sold, and kidnapped and auctioned off, are forced into labour, are made to have sex over and over again…all right in our own country. Right in our cities. According to Statistics Canada, in 2014 there were “206 police-reported violations of human trafficking in Canada, “however that only accounts for those cases that were reported, while the number of unreported cases is believed to be significantly higher. The report also states that “the majority of victims were female (93%), while the majority of accused were male (83%). Between 2009 and 2014, 47% of victims of police-reported human trafficking were between the ages 18 and 24, while one-quarter (25%) were under the age of 18. Persons accused of police-reported human trafficking tended to be under the age of 35.” These are the people walking down our streets and living in our neighbourhoods. They’re living breathing humans, with hopes and dreams, and are worthy of love, dignity, and autonomy.

In the midst of the numbers and statistics, I want to remind you that you have a choice. You can either let the immensity of this injustice weigh you down and prevent you from acting, or you can make it wake you up and motivate you to fight for the freedom of all. It doesn’t matter if the people you’re reaching are human trafficking victims or sexual exploitation victims, what matters is that you are stepping out and showing them love, respect, and dignity. But don’t let it be a once a year thing, make it a daily call to stand up and fight for the freedom of those trapped in bondage, one person at a time. Start today and let the reality of human trafficking steep in your heart until you’re compelled to change the way things are done, and create a new reality for those ensnared in oppression.