January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. In an effort to raise awareness about the crime of human trafficking, we will have a chapter-by-chapter discussion of Shayne Moore and Kimberly McOwen Yim’s book, Refuse to Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery.
Human trafficking is a $32 billion dollar industry and it is estimated that 27 million people are currently trapped in modern-day slavery. Much like the drug industry, human trafficking is an organized crime industry with several layers of operations which allow it to persist. This book does not offer much discourse about the criminal hierarchy and systemic injustices of trafficking, but it does consider the various sides of trafficking that we as citizens can know about and in which we can take action. The Not For Sale official website states that “slavery is wrapped up in almost every industry’s supply chain, tainting the food we eat, the clothes we buy and the electronics we love.” These are the areas in which we need education. Therefore, this book is written for people like me and you, your friends, church members, and neighbors.
Let’s start with the fundamentals:
Define the issue.
Merriam-Webster online defines human trafficking as “organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited (as by being forced into prostitution or involuntary labor).”
We use the terms “human trafficking” and “modern-day slavery” interchangeably. Most people hear about sex trafficking; however, sex trafficking (including forced prostitution and pornography) is only one way in which trafficked persons are forced to labor. Other forms of forced labor include, though are not limited to, agricultural work, domestic work, and being service providers (in places like massage parlors, hair braiding salons, and nail shops).
People who are trafficked become slaves. Merriam-Webster online defines a slave as “a.) someone who is legally owned by another person and is forced to work for that person without pay and b.) a person who is strongly influenced and controlled by something.” Slavery is illegal in every country in the modern world; therefore, this definition is not suitable.
Not For Sale provides a more accurate definition of modern-slavery:
Slavery occurs when one person completely controls another person, using violence or the threat of violence, to maintain that control, exploits them economically and they cannot walk away.
They also include the three main components of the trafficking definition:
- “The action of trafficking; which means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons
- The means of trafficking; which includes threat of our use of force, deception, coercion, abuse of power or position of vulnerability
- The purpose of trafficking; which is always exploitation.”
Why Should You Care?
27 million enslaved people means that there are 27 million people who were created in God’s image and for His good purposes who are not allowed to live out their freedom and purpose to create and cultivate the world. Additionally, according to the U.S. Department of State, approximately 80 percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors (information provided by International Justice Mission Sex Trafficking Fact Sheet). Human trafficking persists because people in positions of power are taking advantage of the most vulnerable and robbing them of their power to live as image bearers of God.
This information provides a good foundation in which to begin our book discussion. Key Take-aways:
Elisa Morgan wrote the forward to this book and in it, she describes a real-life scenario where a young man rang her home door bell and proceeded to sell her a magazine. Elisa had been informed about human trafficking, and therefore was aware that many door-to-door salespeople are actually children who had been trafficked and are working only to have their basis needs met. Armed with information, she asked the salesperson, “How is this business working for you? Are you paid with food and housing in return for your sales (11)?” After having this important conversation, she shared the National Human Trafficking Hotline information. Elisa’s forward tells us that we all need education about this issue and that education leads to proper action.
Do Something. Become an Abolitionist.
The book’s authors want to encourage each of us to become modern-day abolitionists—that is people who are committed to taking the necessary actions to end modern-day slavery.
In the book’s introduction, Kim reminds readers of Gary Haugen’s, the founder and president of International Justice Mission, words:
Truth compels people of goodwill to act; and because all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing, the end is near for the perpetrators of injustice when the truth compels good people to do something, especially good people in places of power (19).
Know your Power.
Oftentimes people become discouraged when faced with such a large issue as human trafficking. They may think, “What can I do? This issue is too big for one person? Will the little action that I take matter in the big scheme of things?” My response is, “Please commit to consistently doing something. The issue is indeed too big for one person, but each of us can take appropriate actions at the appropriate times. Your actions do matter.”
At the heart of these questions, we are really wrestling with the limitations of our own power. The reality is, however, that we have more power than we think. If you are reading this blog right now, that means that you have access to the internet, and that you can indeed read and write. You can use your voice and the skills of reading and writing to educate your family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and others within your areas of influence about this issue. You can also use those same skills to contact your political representatives and business owners to let them know that this issue is important to you and others in your community.
At the end of Chapter 1, Kim puts things in proper perspective, “I have power many people in the world do not. I believe women like me—women with freedom, liberty and opportunity—have an obligation to speak into our generation on behalf of those in the world who do not have a voice: those targeted, exploited and held against their will (24).”
“In what ways are you a good person in a place (or places) of power (24)?”
Save the National Human Trafficking Hotline to your mobile device: 1-888-373-7888.
FOR NORTH CAROLINA TRIAD FOLKS:
We will continue this conversation and more at Part I of the “Refuse to do Nothing” Human Trafficking Education and Awareness Series. RSVP today.
9:00-11:30 a.m. Saturday, January 25, 2014
Host Location: Cornerstone Baptist Church, 5736 Inman Rd, Greensboro, NC 27410
Highlighting: “Refuse to Do Nothing” Chapters 1-3
Keynote Speaker: Emily Fitchpatrick, Founder & President of On Eagles Wings Ministries
Series Organizer: Natasha Sistrunk Robinson www.natashasrobinson.com
Online Resources for More Information:
Human Trafficking Search www.humantraffickingsearch.net
Polaris Project: For a World Without Slavery www.polarproject.org
Not for Sale www.notforsalecampaign.org
Free the Slaves www.freetheslaves.net
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2014