In TCW's September 2012 issue, the cover story features Katariina Rosenblaat, a sex trafficking victim who was rescued and now runs her own organization to help raise awareness and rescue and restore girls trapped in the trafficking industry nationwide ("There Is H.O.P.E. for Me"). Her story both shocked and amazed me—I knew sex trafficking was a problem, but everything changed when I was able to put a face to the issue. I wanted to know how I could help others like Katariina, and the article provided me with several resources to do so.
When I arrived at the 2013 Passion Conference in the Georgia Dome in January 2013, Katariina's story was repeated several hundreds time over from global human trafficking organizations and representatives gathered to motivate the 60,000 college-aged attendees to take a stand to end human trafficking worldwide. International Justice Mission president Gary Haughen, Wellspring Living founder Mary Frances Bowley, and Slavery Footprint founder Justin Dillon were among guests featured as speakers at the conference. They each motivated the crowd to get involved in the fight against human trafficking by becoming educated and donating time, money, and prayer to the fight, and their captivating stories and zeal for rescuing modern-day slaves was contagious.
Here are several ways you can help fight human trafficking in communities at home and abroad:
1) Get educated.
Mary Frances Bowley, author and founder of Atlanta-based human trafficking rescue and restoration organization Wellspring Living, recently wrote a book called The White Umbrella: Walking With Survivors of Sex Trafficking . The book is an account of her work with hundreds of sex trafficking victims in Atlanta since 2001 when Wellspring was first founded, and gives a face to the issue of trafficking in the U. S. Bowley was part of a round-table discussion at Passion 2013, and informed us that even though we may feel like ordinary people, we can make an extraordinary difference in the lives of those suffering simply by donating compassion and awareness to the cause of human trafficking by donating time and resources to organizations already functioning in our local communities.
Learning in community is helpful as well. Introduce your book club, Sunday school, or other gathering to a book or movie on trafficking. Suggested books include Bowley's The White Umbrella ; Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn; Enslaved: True Stories of Modern Day Slavery , edited by Jesse Sage and Liora Kasten, and The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade , by Victor Malerek.
2) Raise awareness.
Consider hanging an anti-trafficking poster in your church, business, or office. The A21 Campaign provides awareness kits on their website, and posters advertising the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) victim hotline are available at www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking/index.html or by calling 1-888-3737-888.
Engage with educational websites like Slaveryfootprint.org is a site founded by Justin Dillon to educate Americans on how they individually are contributing to the human trafficking industry worldwide. Dillon's goal is to raise awareness, and after completing the site's brief survey, I discovered 65 slaves work for me based on my personal lifestyle choices. Naturally, this concerned me, and led me to want to start living more intentionally. As I seek ways to personally become more conscious of how my consumerism may negatively effect those in modern-day slavery, I'm thankful for Laura Leonard's tips on healthy shopping habits as well as opportunities to donate financially to organizations.
3) Take action.
The Polaris Project, a government-funded rescue hotline available 24 hours a day (1-888-373-7888) is not only a rescue line for victims of trafficking, but is also a resource for those hoping to get involved in the fight against human trafficking in their local communities. According to the Project's founder, Bradley Myles, with one simple phone call, you can find organizations to plug into locally that are already fighting human trafficking in your communities; give tips on trafficking establishments or rings you may have heard of in your city; and gain advice on how to start a church or community group to help raise awareness in your local community.
Ask your state legislators how they're working to stop sex trafficking in your state. If they're not, offer to provide information on what they can do. To obtain this information, see the U.S. Department of Justice webpage on slavery and trafficking at www.usdoj.gov/crt/crim/tpwetf.htm, and the model state law on trafficking at www.usdoj.gov/crt/crim/model_state_law.pdf.
Pray for freedom for everyone currently a victim. Pray for physical, spiritual, and emotional wholeness for sex trafficking survivors, and for their continued safety and possible reintegration into their family or community.
5) Subscribe to Today's Christian Woman
In each issue of the magazine throughout 2008 we'll update you about this growing concern, introduce you to inspiring women who are battling this evil, and provide ways that you can join the fight. Together, we can make a difference--subscribe today!
As daunting as the issue of human trafficking seems, I was encouraged by these worship lyrics written by Chris Tomlin and performed at Passion: "Though the need is great, our God is greater." I plan to go into this summer with a renewed sense of purpose and fervor to help fight human trafficking in my local community, inspired by the words of Psalm 147:5—won't you join me?
Allison J. Althoff is Today's Christian Woman's associate online editor. Follow her on Twitter @ajalthoff.