When People Become a Commodity

I was not looking for another cause to care about. Besides, human trafficking wasn't new to me. I've long supported Gary Haugen's work to break systems of enslavement through International Justice Mission. Recently I've been following Christine Caine’s anti-slavery work called the A21 Campaign. And I’ve been well aware of David Batstone's Not For Sale movement.

So I don’t know why my soul went numb while I recently sat through a workshop on human trafficking taught by a passionate, fast-talking young woman who works for World Relief. Maybe the rapid-fire barrage of shocking statistics and horrifying stories were too much for my mind to filter, so they went straight to my heart.

Some authorities estimate that there are more than 27 million slaves in the world today. The trading of humans, according to some sources, has become one of the largest criminal industries in the world -- with a market value in excess of $32 billion, according to the U.N. Approximately 80 percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors.

The two primary forms of slavery -- forced labor and sex trafficking -- are driven by deception and coercion. Victims of forced labor face brutal conditions in rock quarries, rice mills, brick kilns, fisheries, garment factories, and other industries around the world, earning only enough to keep them alive for another day of unending labor. Sex traffickers trade in rape; whereas drugs and guns can only be sold once, human bodies can be raped for money over and over again -- every day.

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