Sex trafficking. You’ve heard the term thrown around occasionally, or heard of specific instances such as the recent rescue of three girls in Cleveland. Maybe you’ve heard about it through Louie Giglio and the END IT movement. Or, like most of us, you may have been educated on it primarily from Liam Neesen, his "very particular set of skills," and the movie Taken.
But what does it actually mean? What does it actually look like? And what can we do to be a part of the solution?
What is Sex Trafficking?
Sex trafficking is the organized coercion of unwilling people into different sexual practices, including strip clubs, pornography, massage parlors, street prostitution, and escort services.
It can take many forms. Much of it does involve people being kidnapped (or sold by family members) and then often shipped to another country, which is not fundamentally different than the slave trade of 200 years ago.
But it can also include women or men involved in prostitution or pornography who we think chose that lifestyle. One has to consider why anyone would actually choose such a thing, and realize that it is most likely a result of either coercion or a lack of choice.
Sex Trafficking Statistics
Sex slavery is a terrible crime on the individual level. A single case, when brought to the public’s attention, inspires shock and outrage. But we are not dealing with isolated incidents.
In the U.S. alone, sex trafficking is a $9.8 billion industry. That means it is larger than the NFL.
Worldwide, slavery is a $32 billion industry. That is more than the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, and NASCAR combined.
There are 27 million slaves worldwide right now. That is more slaves than there were back before the Civil War. It is more slaves than there has ever been before in the history of the world.
The average age of a new sex slave is about 13 years old. Average. Which means for every 18-year-old, there is an 8-year-old (or multiple 11- or 12-year-olds).
One out of every five cases of child trafficking in this country occurs in Texas.
The scope of the problem, and the evil that it represents, can be difficult to comprehend. We don’t want to even think about it. But we must do something about it.
No matter how complicated or unsolvable the problem may seem, we have a Savior that can overcome all of it. As His church we have the opportunity, calling, and mission to bring His light into the dark world. So how do we do it?
Even if you don’t have Liam Neeson’s particular set of skills, you can make a real difference. God has already prepared you with the skills you need. Below are some specific, concrete things you can do about it.
First off, don’t be part of the problem. Ah, things just got a little awkward. You may be helping supply the market for sex trafficking. If you are a consumer of pornography, strip clubs, or any version of sex-as-a-product, you are not currently part of the solution. You are part of the problem. There is forgiveness for that, no matter what form you may have taken part in. But stop. Eliminate the demand, and there will be no profit in the supply.
Do you have a heart for justice? Consider joining Ministries 101 or Restart 133 as they minister to incarcerated women.
Want to make sure at risk women don’t fall into the trap of prostitution? Consider working with Interfaith Housing Coalition and Exodus Ministries as they help families and women transition from homelessness or prison back into society.
Do you like kids? If so, consider mentoring a child in West Dallas through Mercy Street.You can help prevent at-risk kids from falling into the trafficking trap by simply caring about them, discipling them, and pointing them in the right direction.
Want to be involved directly in bringing Jesus to this problem? Jesus Said Love and New Friends, New Life provide outreach and aftercare to women in the sex industry and would love your help.
Spread the word. Let others know there is a problem and encourage them to get involved. Feel free to share this post, if that helps.
Most importantly, pray. Click here to see our prayer guide on the issue. Or join us next Tuesday, May 21, in the in the chapel after The Porch for a time of corporate prayer.
You don’t have to do it alone. If everyone at The Porch and everyone reading this right now committed to taking part, we would have an army literally thousands strong. And instead of Liam Neeson’s fictional Taken character, we have the real-world Aslan backing us up.
This can be the beginning of the end.
If you have questions, please contact us ThePorch@watermark.org.