“Cash or credit?” “Would you like to sign up for our membership?” “Go premium.” “Do you need a bag for that?”
Do any of these phrases sound familiar to you? Most people hear them on a daily basis, going about their regular routine. However, there are people who hear these phrases differently, in relation to them, where they are the product.
Modern slaves – the world’s fastest growing global crime, an industry worth $32 billion-a-year, according to the U.S State Department.
Modern slavery, more commonly known as human trafficking, is the act of “selling men, women, and children for sex or for labor,” explains Sophomore Human Development & Family Science major, Lindsay Peake.
Upon hearing this definition, a question might come to mind: is the sex or labor consensual? Stop the Traffik, an online campaigning organization seeking to build a traffic-free world says, “Vulnerable victims are often exploited by someone they trust, and then are stripped of their dignity and subjected to horrors.”
“Human trafficking can also be misconstrued as a ‘third world’ problem, but in fact, it is a sizeable problem within the United States” says Senior Psychology major and International Justice Mission (IJM) member, Ashley Burkett.
IJM, a nonprofit organization, informs Messiah students about human trafficking through campus events. IJM’s vision is to rescue thousands, protect millions, and prove that justice for the poor is possible, according to messiah.edu.
With great efforts today’s organizations are generating awareness among individuals, with an increasing amount of students showing motivation to take action against human trafficking. Even so, what is the main problem hindering other students from engaging more?
Sophomore Biology major, Yokabed Jekale shares, “I would not really call it a lack of awareness, I would call it more of a lack of paying attention to how much it affects people.” Jekale continues by saying even though she is deeply moved by the personal stories, they can only stay at the back of her mind for so long.
“Statistics scare people, yes, but I think statistics are important. We are not trying to scare, we are trying to poke their heartstrings,” Jekale adds.
Researching human trafficking might cause one to become emotional toward how it affects other people. However if an individual were to make a change, he or she would “have to move forward from that,” says Peake.
What about Christian perspectives among students?
“Prayer is the biggest way,” says Jekale. “Only through God, can it be restored. He is the glue, the whole thing that is going to bring it together.”
Taking a different perspective, Peake addresses her outlook of how she views the “pimp” selling someone, a common picture of human trafficking. “If you think about it, that person is also held captive by sin, it is difficult to look at both of them, because they are both the children of God.”
On the other hand, Burkett expresses her desire to follow Christ’s illustration. “I hope to follow His example and follow the principle behind Proverbs 31:8-9, which states, ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.’”
There are many organizations standing against this criminal act, taking action toward educating individuals, rescuing victims, and encouraging the rest of the world to stand against the global activity together.
Writer Disclaimer: This piece was not meant to promote any organization, but to promote awareness, as well as a Christian perspective toward the global criminal activity known as human trafficking.