“They forget that their hands have any other use than stripping, that their breasts are of any other than to bear the wrenching of the men. That their nails serve to protect their tender finger tips. That they can adorn themselves for themselves and not necessarily to attract buyers”
The Truth As It Is, Sanlaap India.
I first learned about sex trafficking when I was 14 years old. I was looking up Natalie Grant on my computer at home because I liked some of her music. I saw that she was involved in an organization that was trying to combat something called sex trafficking. I didn't know what it was.... so I looked it up. Some of my first thoughts were oh my. this cannot be real. People don't really buy and sell people for that. Do they? Girls my age and younger have to do those things for anyone that pays?? I don't want anyone to ever, ever have to do that! I need to help stop this.
Since that day, God has tugged at my heart strings continually over the practice of human trafficking for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. I have been able to do projects that allow me to learn more about this practice. Most recently, I wrote a research paper comparing sex trafficking in India to that of the United States for an English class this past fall and was able to share statistics and stories with my classmates. When I finished my paper, I sat at my desk sobbing... not because I was done with my final at last, but because I was so overwhelmed with the gravity of sex trafficking.
Although I would never guess that God would somehow tie pieces of my story together (sarcasm), He once again surprised me when He did. Two things--three if you throw in India--that God has been shaping my heart to care for fit together in the puzzle! Sex trafficking is actually related to the pandemic of orphans.
People in the grips of sex trafficking do not have the ability to care for their children due to their current circumstances or die and leave their children as orphans. Sadly, this is a cycle. It does not stop there. Orphans are more vulnerable to traffickers because they have no one to take care of them and thus are impoverished. Not only can traffickers kidnap orphans easily without anyone necessarily noticing that they are gone, but traffickers can use the poverty these children are experiencing to lure them into their traps. They promise a better life, but all too soon, these children discover that the promises are full of false hope.
It is estimated that in the last 30 years, 30 million children have been trafficked and sexually exploited worldwide.
Currently in India, there are an estimated 400,000 children sex workers. Approximately 200 Indian women and girls are trafficked into sexual exploitation each day. To put that in perspective, I go to West Virginia University where a typical freshman lecture class is made up of 200 people. That's a full lecture hall of people forced to perform sexual favors for someone else against their will brought into the 'business' every single day.
This isn't just a third-world country problem. It's a problem for every country in the world. And for every state in my country. Yes, even the great USA faces sex trafficking. Approximately 300,000 native US children are at risk for being trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation with 100,000 to 150,000 currently in sex slavery. In addition, an estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign children are brought to the United States for sex. These practices go on right under our noses.
If that doesn't break your heart, I have no idea what will.
In the midst of this heart break, there is a glimpse of hope. As more and more people are made aware of this issue, we have a chance to combat it. Caring for orphans is a great step. When we make sure that they are cared for, we decrease their vulnerability towards being picked up by traffickers.
When we show those that are susceptible to or have been rescued from sex trafficking God's selfless love, we are showing them hope that is shimmering in the light of God's love. Despite this, it is hard to not be discouraged when the statistics are apparent. But I am not afraid. Even if I do not live to see the abolition of this kind of slavery, I know that it will happen. God is on the side of those treated unjustly.
"He will bring justice to the poor of the people; He will save the children of the needy, And will break in pieces the oppressor." Psalm 72:4 NKJV
Check out these sources to learn more about human trafficking for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation: