We have heard the cry of our world.
Although precious and beautiful in God’s design,
the earth and its peoples exist today
in a fragile, divided, and fragmented condition.
– SSND Call to Transformation, 2002
What is Human Trafficking?
Trafficking in persons is modern-slavery, involving victims who are forced, defrauded or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation. It is an international evil – approximately 7000,000 persons are moved across borders every year.
Human trafficking is a multi-dimensional threat. It deprives people of their human rights and freedom; it is a global health risk; and it fuels the growth of organized crime. It also undermines the safety and security of all nations it touches.
Victims can be found anywhere in the United States – in big cities, small towns, rural settings and very likely in a community near you. They hail from countries spanning the globe, and their ranks include women, children and men. They are enslaved for a variety of purposes, including agricultural and sweatshop labors, domestic servants, nannies, restaurant and hotel workers, landscapers, manicurists, prostitutes and pornographic models, actors and dancers.
Who are these trafficked persons?
From areas that are poor, in armed conflict, and under going political upheaval are the situations from which most victims come. They live with collapsed economies, civil unrest and natural disasters, ongoing ones and the aftermath of others. Trafficked persons are usually poor, unemployed or underemployed, and desperate to escape their conditions. They are coerced, deceived and lied to.
What US law exists to cover this evil?
In 2000, the United States Congress passed the Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). The law covers severe forms of trafficking: sexual exploitation for commercial purposes and forced labor.
It covers anyone forced, tricked, or coerced into performing a commercial sex act and anyone less than 18 years of age induced to perform such an act.
Forced labor means the person is used for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion and is subjected to involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or slavery.
TVPA protects the basic human rights of each victim, grants temporary residence with a T-visa, which allows legal temporary residence in the US and also grants eligibility for benefits. The purpose of the law is prevention, protection and prosecution.
What can I do?
For those of us who are going about our regular ministries and occupations, we need to become more knowledgeable about this issue. Then it is important to raise the awareness of others and continue educating colleagues and friends on local situations as well as the global picture of human trafficking.
If you would like additional information about trafficking of persons or wish to organize a workshop or invite a speaker to address this topic, please contact Sister Ethel Howley at 410-377-2071 or firstname.lastname@example.org.