What should Christians do in response to the global criminal industry of human trafficking? The Revd Laura Marie Piotrowicz, Rector of St John’s, Port Dalhousie, in Canada, explores the issue.
In March, I was honoured to be part of the Anglican Communion delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, a tremendous opportunity to represent our church at this global forum promoting gender equality. I participated in many sessions addressing human trafficking and its intersectionality with other areas of justice and equality.
In one session, five women who were trafficked for sexual exploitation bravely shared their horrific experiences. One of these women detailed a history spanning three continents over three decades, held by an immense network of criminals. While a survivor, she shared that every day as she looks in the mirror, she sees a victim. She challenged the room to take action today, knowing that every day more people become victims.
Her challenge has stayed with me; as overwhelming as the issue is, as people of faith we are called to take action. Now. Today. Because today, more children of God will be commodified: stolen, abused, sold (the average price for a human life in 2017 was a mere $90 USD [approximately £71 GBP]).
This threatens us all, as human trafficking involves more than 25 million victims annually (71 per cent are women and girls). No country is exempt, the “not in my backyard” mentality a dangerous fallacy in the continuum of violence.
And so, we as the faithful, are called to action. Scriptures repeatedly show that God reacts to oppression in two ways: by siding with the oppressed, especially the most vulnerable; the widows and orphans, refugees and the poor (see Psalm. 9.9), and by providing opportunity for God’s people to counter the oppression (see Isaiah 1.17).
The reality of our world today demonstrates God’s invitation for us to take action, to be leaders in raising awareness and preventing human trafficking, and in providing a holy response and support to its survivors.
This cannot wait; we cannot sit idly by for someone else to do something. We need to be educated about the scourge of human trafficking, in local, regional, and global contexts. We need to foster relationships with agencies and governments that combat this evil. We need to work against systematic injustices that lead to increased vulnerabilities. We need to re-read the scriptures seeing biblical “slavery” as modern “human trafficking”. And we need to pray, every day.
Because every day, a survivor is looking in the mirror. Every day, too many beautiful souls become new victims.
Every day, O God, may we work to protect your children. Every day.
NB: I refer to human trafficking as distinct from migrant smuggling and kidnap for ransom. More information can be found on the UN Office on Drugs and Crime website.
Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS), August 13, 2018