What is human trafficking?
This is the question I have answered hundreds of times since Unlock Freedom began in 2012. But the answer, to me, is somewhere entwined within the faces of my memory.
Human trafficking is so much more than the latest trending human rights issue. It is so much more than rallies and walks and documentary screenings. Human trafficking is the millions of children and adults whose vulnerabilities are being preyed upon and whose lives are being stolen in ways far more evil than our minds were created to comprehend.
If you have been educated about human trafficking globally, then you know that unsuspecting parents are being targeted every day across the globe by human traffickers offering money for their children, feeding them false promises of achievement and opportunity. If you have been educated about human trafficking globally, then you might know there are places in the world in which children are seen as a commodity to be bought and sold for the provision of the family. If you have been educated about human trafficking globally, then you know there are people in desperate situations all across the globe being targeted with enticements of love or false opportunity and ending up trapped in slavery.
But what about the United States? Do these same things happen in our country, in our states, in our cities?
I had no idea just how deep the answer to this question would go until I walked the streets of my city and the corridors of my schools, my shelters, and my detention centers—until I spoke with the children, adolescents, teens, and adults in my own backyard.
And the answer is yes.
The number of sexual slaves in America, just like the rest of the world, is growing at alarming rates because we are living in an era of sexual insanity. We are living in an era in which the word “teen,” in many places, is the most sought-out type of pornography on the web.
In America, human trafficking exists in plain sight of a society that is largely unaware of its existence—because it doesn’t look here like it looks on foreign soil.
Victims of human trafficking in America are the children and teenagers being used in the production of homemade pornography, walking the hallways of our schools by day, terrified to be discovered and yet desperate to be found.
They are the children roaming the streets because their guardians aren’t doing their job to “guard” them, let alone provide for their needs. They are vulnerable to “love” because they’ve never known it, and they’re vulnerable to “opportunity” because they believe they’ll never have it.
The victim of human trafficking in America is the naive and unsuspecting adolescent online, preyed upon by internet “loverboys” and stolen right out of their own home.
These victims become the faces on the other side of the screen and the women dancing on a pole. They become the person waiting in dark corners for their next “date,” ordered online and delivered like a pizza. They are held captive, chained by fear, shame, punishment, and no way out.
Human trafficking is the epitome and embodiment of evil. Its atrocities are not comprehensible because they are not of this world. I cannot wrap my mind around some of the stories I have heard out of precious young mouths, so I will not try.
Human trafficking is breaking the heart of God, and therefore God is breaking the hearts of His people. God does not tolerate injustice, and His Word says over and over again that He cares for and fights for the oppressed. God is calling His people to take notice, to pray, and to act.