The Reality of Victims
As many as a dozen young girls, some appearing to be eight or nine, paraded before the camera, smiling for their prospective customer, gathering around him like a group of excited little Girl Scouts trying to get a customer to buy cookies….I saw past the sick display of young girls brutalized into smiling for a chance to be sodomized. I had seen too much of this before. But I had never seen girls so young, eleven, ten, maybe eight. And then as the footage rolled forward I saw a tiny girl–no more than five years of age–held on the hip of another girl and pushed forward for sale. It was a horrible moment, captured in clear black and white and repeated in slo-mo.
Excerpt from Terrify No More, by Haugen & Hunter
In his book, Terrify No More, Gary Haugen recounts his experiences from rescuing trafficking victims around the world. The above account occurred approximately ten miles from where I live in Cambodia, in the small village of Svay Pak. This fall I had the opportunity to visit Svay Pak and see that this brothel and many others are now shut down and being used by God’s people to bring redemption and hope to this village. While there is light expelling the darkness, the grim reality is that children are still being sold here. But it is not only in Svay Pak; child trafficking is happening almost everywhere in the world, including the United States.
Human trafficking–a form of modern slavery–enslaves an estimated 21 million people worldwide and annually generates $150 billion in illegal profits. Victims of this heinous crime are forced to engage in commercial sex or provide labor or services against their will. Children make up nearly one-third of human trafficking victims, and typically they are procured between the ages of five to fifteen. Some victims are kidnapped while many others are lured in with the promise of a better life. Child trafficking takes on different forms such as: children being trafficked to work as beggars, babies being “sold” to parents under the guise of adopting an “orphan,” children being sold into the commercial sex trade, the harvest of internal organs for sale on the black market, and forced underage labor in sweatshops and brick kilns.
In the city where I live, the horrific reality of these atrocities is inescapable. Children, barely five years of age holding a drugged “sleeping” baby, will tug on my skirt and ask for money. The blinking neon lights of KTV bars, which front for illicit brothels, cause me to cry out to God for justice when I drive the streets at night. Just a few weeks ago a “massage parlor” close to my home was shut down because they were selling children.
The statistics and stories are gut-wrenching. It is hard to grapple with the reality that in India the cost of a child is $45 and the cost of a buffalo is $350. It makes my blood boil that human beings knowingly brutalize small children, and parents sell their daughters’ virginity for the equivalent of a few months wages. Harder though for me to grapple with is why the church is doing so little in the face of such grave injustice.
Act in the Face of Oppression
How should we as Christians, who claim to be followers of Christ, respond to this rapidly growing issue? William Wilberforce, a leader in the abolishment of legal slave trade, is famously noted for saying, “A private faith that does not act in the face of oppression is no faith at all.” We are repeatedly instructed in Scripture to defend and care for those who are oppressed. Isaiah 1:17 tells us to, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
The magnitude of the issue is overwhelming, and there is no simple solution. But there are ways that we as the church can begin engaging the problem. Here are some helpful suggestions for becoming involved in bringing hope and freedom to the victims of child trafficking.
Pray for the victims. Pray that they would find freedom, but most of all that they would find the giver of freedom, Jesus. Pray for those working in the trenches to rescue victims. Pray for the perpetrators–those that are exploiting these precious children. I encourage us to stop seeing prayer as secondary, but to view it as a powerful way to make a lasting impact on our world.
Become educated on these issues in our world. A simple Google search on child trafficking will bring up countless websites that contain informative resources. There are many excellent books that have been written on the matter; take the time to read one. We cannot begin to start solving a problem if we do not know the scope of the issue.
Find, support, and get involved with an organization that is already on the front lines. Many organizations are lacking the manpower and funding needed to continue fighting child trafficking.
Remain morally pure. Our sex-saturated culture wrongly tells us that personal pleasure is both paramount and okay. Unbeknownst to many this ideology is growing the commercial sex industry, including pornography. What many pornography users do not realize is that they are actually supporting and growing sexual slavery and human trafficking.
Support and reach out to at-risk children, both at home and around the world. In our world today there are 153 million orphaned and vulnerable children who are at high risk for being trafficked or are already in slavery. As a church we are commanded to care for the orphans. To learn more about how to do this, I highly recommend reading the book Orphan Justice, by Johnny Carr.
Unto the Least of These
Jesus in His earthly ministry showed great compassion to the children He encountered. We are called to do the same. Rescue and redemption are the mission of the Gospel. This is not only an overseas problem, and child trafficking is more than likely happening in your own community. I encourage you to start making a difference right now wherever you live. Seek God about what He wants you to do to bring hope into the lives of slave children. The rescue or prevention of one child from trafficking is not too small. We are all faced with a choice. Will we begin doing our part to eradicate child trafficking, or will we ignore the cries for freedom and justice from the children suffering in slavery?
|Working with DNI in Cambodia, Rachelle Zook is currently a full-time language learner. She desires to see Jesus transform lives through sharing the Gospel message and is passionate about seeing young women embrace godly femininity. When language studies are not consuming her time, she enjoys interacting with people, studying theology and various other interests, savoring a good cup of coffee, traveling to and exploring new places, and delving into the pages of a well-written book.
List of Resources
Listed below are some good sources of information to check out if you are interested in learning more about the human trafficking crisis in our world.
Good News About Injustice, by Gary A. Haugen
Terrify No More, by Gary A. Haugen & Gregg Hunter
God in a Brothel, by Daniel Walker
Justice Awakening, by Eddie Byun
No Longer a Slumdog, by K. P. Yohannan
Girls Like Us, by Rachel Lloyd
English Standard Version Bible
Human Trafficking: Prices and Statistics of the Modern Day Slave Trade, by Havescope Report
Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting, by Johnny Carr
Terrify No More, by Gary A. Haugen & Gregg Hunter
Quote by William Wilberforce, found on www.azquotes.com
Facts used from www.polarisproject.org