By Kristen Johnson
Human Trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where perpetrators profit from the sexual exploitation or forced labor of men, women, and children. It is a violation of basic human rights, and it is also a crime as defined by U.S. federal law and California state law. (San Diego County District Attorney’s Office).
In my role as the Social Justice Chairperson for my United Methodist Women’s Group, I have been tasked over this past year with attending Human Trafficking Taskforce meetings, I have read two books on the subject, watched several documentaries, and attended presentations from two charitable organizations in my area who work with victims. The horror of learning about human trafficking (particularly sex trafficking) has led me to devote myself to working to help victims. Their stories are very real and much worse that you can possibly imagine. As a result of this work, I now support several organizations in my local area, nationwide, and internationally. I am highlighting just one of those worthy organizations today:
3Strands Global: This wonderful organization provides support for prevention, recovery, restoration and reintegration programs. They provide educational opportunities for survivors, while working to combat human trafficking. Currently, they are working in the U.S., Cambodia, and Nepal. They also organize large awareness events. You can help victims with just $10 a month and it’s quick and easy to sign up: http://3strandsglobalfoundation.org/get-involved/give/.
Another really great thing about 3Strands Global is that they organize huge fundraising races in a variety of cities. I was blessed to be able to organize a group from my Church to participate in a fundraising run this year and it was an amazing blessing for all of us. The community response was amazing – we had a huge crowd of runners that day (which means we had a huge crowd of fundraisers, because all of us raised funds online for the organization!) In addition to raising funds and awareness, we were all able to further assist victims and advocacy organizations by visiting and shopping at vendor booths. I was able to buy jewelry and other items made by victims of human trafficking. The entire day was incredibly motivating and I’m so glad that my Church group was able to participate in this service team. (Actually, we had such a great time that day that one of my Church members said “hey we should do more runs like this one to raise funds for other organizations!’ More on that soon.) I saved my race day participant tag and hope to have a stack of them someday!
Over 27 million people are trafficked every year worldwide, with approximately 18,000 U.S. victims. It is one of the most profitable criminal enterprises with an estimated $9.5 billion profit in the U.S. alone, annually. (San Diego District Attorney’s Office). With that kind of profit, we are fighting a really big uphill battle, and that work begins with all of us.
The change begins with all of us. Sitting idly by while millions of people are exploited is not an option.
Psalm 82:3-4 (NRSV): 3 Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
Photo (at top) courtesy of: stocksnap.io