January is the National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and the Half the Sky Movement: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldview recently hosted a Google hangout to discuss the causes and consequences of sex trafficking, along with what we can do to prevent it.
Let me start by saying, “I am not an expert on sex trafficking.” There are a ton of people who have been in this fight to liberate victims from this form of modern day slavery for many years, and I am seeking to learn from them. The reason I have decided to pay attention to this issue of sex trafficking is because many of the victims are women and children, and many of those women and children are also colored and poor people.
When I read scriptures throughout the Bible which addresses the way God’s chosen or elect people should treat the poor and oppressed, I am compelled to act. I believe victims of sex trafficking are included in the group of poor and oppressed that God cares deeply about, and that’s why I have decided to become a Community Ambassador for the Half the Sky Movement. As a community ambassador, I have agreed to share the plight of women across the world and how we as Christians can bring hope to what seems like hopeless situations. I believe this is a part of living a gospel-centered life and Jesus himself calls us to this work.
When Jesus announced his earthly ministry in Luke 4: 18-19, he said, “The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor [NIV].” In this proclaim, Jesus quoted from the prophet Isaiah who told the Israelites what the New Covenant of God would look like. Isaiah presents Jesus as the one to “bestow on [us] a crown of beauty instead of ashes the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. [We] will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor (Isaiah 61:3b-3).” This the gospel, the good news is that Jesus has come to reset a broken system filled with sin and he wants us to join him in proclaiming God’s beauty, gladness, praise, and splendor. Let us not shrink back from this important, yet difficult work.
I encourage you to watch the below Half the Sky Movement hangout. Please don’t let the 1 hour length deter you. Rarely do I watch videos of this length in one sitting. Normally, I will watch 10-15 minutes while having a lunch break or snack and then I’ll pick up the video where I left off the last time. I am asking you to commit to watching the entire video before the end of this month.
The video features Luke Bloucher of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center as the discussion facilitator. Featured panelists and experts include Nicholas Kristof (journalist, co-author, and co-founder of the Half the Sky Movement), Somaly Mam (Founder and CEO of AFESIP which empowers survivors in Cambodia, sex trafficking industry survivor, advocate and leader, featured heroine of the Half the Sky Movement) and Rachel Lloyd (Founder and CEO of GEMS, Girls Education and Mentoring Services; sex trafficking industry survivor and leader).
A few interesting points made during the discussion include:
- Most people targeted by the sex trafficking industry are poor and oppressed, so the industry targets those who are not high on other people’s priority list, so we actually don’t pay attention when these girls and women disappear. On the other hand, if we do see these women walking the streets, we assume they are there by choice.
- Advocates who are tearing down walls in the sex trafficking industry need more people like you to understand the issues, and commit to giving a voice and providing choices for victims.
- Sex Trafficking is a global and domestic issue.
- Many survivors do have success. The vision and mission of Rachel’s organization is to “Turn Victims into Survivors, and Survivors into Leaders.”
- We also need good men to get involved in this fight!
What can you do? Glad you asked:
- Educate yourself about the issues! This issue was first brought to my attention when I attended the Synergy Women’s Network Conference in 2011 and heard Sheryl WuDunn, co-author of Half the Sky and wife of Nicholas, spoke about the oppression of women. Since then, I have watched the Half the Sky Documentary which aired on PBS and is now available for viewing. I will begin reading the Half the Sky book next month. Read! There are many other ways to educate yourself. Once you have educated yourself, share what you have learned with others.
- Mentor and Tutor young people. Mentoring and proper education are preventive measures which serve as strong tools in this fight.
- Do what you can to be a resource for positive change concerning education and poverty in your local community.
- There are several Christian organizations joining the Half the Sky Movement in this fight, International Justice Mission and World Vision are among them. Offer them financial support.
- PRAY! PRAY! PRAY! This is a spiritual fight and we should address it as such by battling in the spirit on behalf of these image bearers who are beloved of God.
Let’s live the gospel and be a part of the solution!
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2013