Human trafficking is an uncomfortable reality that many would prefer not to think about in America and other parts of the world. I understand this discomfort, but I also believe that evil must be exposed. It is for that reason, on the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, I want to shine a spotlight on this terrible modern day exploitation of women and children.
Definition: Human Trafficking is modern-day slavery. Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons 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.
- An estimated 12.3 million men, women and children are trafficked for commercial sex or forced labor around the world.
- Approximately 80 percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors.
- Worldwide, there are nearly two million children in the commercial sex trade.
- Trafficking is estimated to be $32 billion industry—the second largest criminal enterprise (drugs is the first).
Trafficking is about supply and demand. To meet the demand for young women who can be sold into slavery and prostitution, criminal networks (such as the mob) traffick young girls from poor Eastern European countries like Moldova, Bulgaria, and the Ukraine (“source” countries) to “destination” countries with higher demand. With a promise of a better life and good jobs, girls are often deceived into crossing borders willingly. When they arrive however, they are not brought to an office or a restaurant to work, but to a brothel.
We could talk at length about geopolitical, social, and economic factors, all of which are important, but anti-trafficking advocates have elevated a simple need in this fight—Awareness. As one advocate said recently, “Awareness is 80% of the solution.” 80% of the solution is exposing the evil that is happening right now and providing positive alternatives.
Every year 700-800 children are expelled from State-run orphanages in Moldova. Upon leaving, they are often only given a few dollars and a bus ticket to the town listed on their birth certificate. They are alone, and have nowhere to go. They are perfect victims for a trafficker to exploit for financial gain.
Six years ago, 100X developed a partnership with Stella’s Voice, an organization in Moldova working to protect at-risk orphans. Stella’s works to educate orphans about the dangers of trafficking and provides them with a safe home where they receive loving care and an education. To date, 100X has built three homes and we have the capacity to house approximately 60 children at a time. But we need to do so much more….
We know that approximately 99% of trafficking victims are never rescued, so preventing children from becoming victims is the first step in ending this travesty. To reach more children, we’re in the process of building another home in Moldova, one that will be focused on prevention as well as job training, education and providing a safe place for this vulnerable population. Phillip Cameron, the founder of Stella’s Voice, has said that he never again wants to be limited by lack of space, and I am in firm agreement. But we cannot do this alone!
Will you help us protect one more?
What you can do
Speak Up—post a message on Facebook or Twitter, send an email, talk to your co-workers and legislators.
Give—we want to reach as many young girls as possible, and we cannot do it alone.
Pray—pray for the girls, for those working to help them, and for exposure of those who are exploiting them.
12.3 million is a daunting number, but what if you could rescue one? To quote Edmund Burke, “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
–John Blanchard, Co-Founder and President of the Board of Directors