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A Closer Look at Human Trafficking

3 Oct

Guest blog post by Katy P., Team Haiti 2012

Parents, imagine having to sell your child for food or to get out of poverty. Imagine your child being taken by either someone you know or a stranger and forced into doing unimaginable things that are pornographic, or in human trafficking, etc. I know this is hard to imagine or even think that this would happen to your child, but unfortunately this happens every day to millions of children all over the world.

Human trafficking has been described as: the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons: by the threat or use of kidnapping, force , fraud, deception or coercion, or by the giving or receiving of unlawful payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, and for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor. Trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children can take many forms and include forcing a child into prostitution or other forms of sexual activity or child pornography. Child exploitation can also include forced labor or services, slavery, servitude, the removal of organs, illicit international adoption, trafficking for early marriage, recruitment as child soldiers, for use in begging, or for recruitment for cults.

When people think of traffickers, they normally think of strangers, and most of the time it is strangers, but other times it is a family member or a neighbor.  Many parents, especially in poor countries, sell their children to pay off debts or gain an income, or they may be deceived concerning the prospects of training or a better life for their children.  They may sell their children for labor, sex trafficking or illegal adoptions.  Unfortunately, victims of trafficking are later used to traffic other women and children, because that is all they know how to do. Continue reading

Child Soldiers: Examining the Solution

26 Sep

Guest blog post by Amanda F., Team Haiti 2012

When you think of a soldier what do you see? I picture a tall, strong man. He is a fearless fighter for his government; a positive exactitude, defending freedom and rights of the people of his country. That is not the case for child soldiers around the world. A child soldier is defined as, “a person under the age of 18 who directly or indirectly participates in an armed conflict as part of an armed force or group.” This definition is very cut and dry, but the life of a child soldier is so much more than that. Some children carry assault rifles, machetes or grenades on the front lines, while others are used in “combat support” roles as messengers, spies, cooks, mine cleaners and sexual slaves. These children have not only been robbed of their childhoods, many have personally experienced or witnessed executions, death squad killings, disappearances, torture, arrest, sexual abuse, bombings, forced displacement, destruction of their homes and massacres.

A 14 year old, abducted in 2000 by the Revolutionary United Front, in Sierra Leone said, “I’ve seen people get their hands cut off, a ten yer old girl raped and then die, and so many men and women burned alive, so many times I just cried inside my heart because I didn’t dare cry out loud.” (http://www.un.org/cyberschoolbus/briefing/ soldiers/index.htm) This ongoing trend of child soldiers is tragic and heartbreaking. According to recent investigation, the number of children who have been coerced or induced into armed forces as child soldiers is around 300,000.  The youngest child soldiers are around 7 years old, the average age of a first grader in America. Over 50 countries currently recruit children under 18 into their armed forces and no one is spared; over 1/3 of these children are female. Continue reading

Turning the Page on Poverty

24 Jul

Blog post by Joe C., Team Ethiopia 2012

Poverty is at the root of so many of the injustices around the world and causes the most vulnerable in our society to be pushed further and further into the dirt.  The Bible is so clear that we caused this grave situation starting with the first choice to eat from the wrong tree.   The statistics are staggering, to the point that we’ve generally ignored them because they are so large that most of us have no frame of reference to understand them.  We can’t possibly put faces, names or identities to all those who suffer in poverty.  Although, if you go to www.poverty.com they will put faces to the people who died in the past hour from hunger.  Then you can put a name with a face.  If you watch for 24 hours, you will see on average 25,000 people died of hunger related causes in that time.  So many preventable diseases and medical conditions causing death are related to poverty, so many children sold in to slavery, prostitution or abandoned as orphans stem from people living in poverty.  The numbers are overwhelming, the reality is overwhelming, to the point where many of us get angry and bitter, we get hopeless and ineffectual or we get apathetic and ignorant in order to protect our sanity against the reality.

The Bible however, is also clear that this isn’t just a big punishment and blame game that God is playing with us because of fallen state of our species.  After he gave us the boot from a perfect creation without poverty, he said you’ll have to work hard, but I’ll provide what you need.  He actually didn’t send us into an impoverished world.  Poverty.com also says, “yet there is plenty of food in the world for everyone.”   Continue reading

The Lord Will Answer Them

23 Jul

Blog post by Erin B., Team India 2012

Have you ever experienced what it is like to live in a trash dump? I haven’t and don’t want to imagine having to live that way but I have seen it first hand in Uruguay, South America. It breaks my heart to see the elderly, 4 year olds, and entire families digging through trash together to see if they can find something to sell so they will have food to eat or money to survive on. To me, looking out over a trash dump with humanity wandering about it screams of hopelessness, lack of joy, and desperation. It looks like death. The landscape is bleak. Poverty is a huge problem worldwide. The bible says that we will always have the poor among us in Matthew 26:11, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” God’s heart is to answer the poor as Isaiah 41:17 says: The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.” God promises He will not forsake the poor and needy.

Orphans are impacted in a great way by poverty. Every 15 SECONDS, another child becomes an AIDS orphan in Africa. Every DAY 5,760 more children become orphans. Every YEAR, 2,102,400 more children become orphans (in Africa alone). 143,000,000 Orphans in the world today spend an average of 10 years in an orphanage or foster home. Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but… Every YEAR 14,050,000 children still grow up as orphans and AGE OUT of the system. Every DAY 38,493 children age out. Every 2.2 SECONDS, another orphan ages out with no family to belong to and no place to call home (http://thirdworldorphans.org/gpage39.html). Having orphans in the world promotes poverty because orphans lack the resources they need to have good health care, nutrition, and protection. If poverty is dealt with, there will be fewer orphans because parents will live longer due to less disease and hunger. Orphans will also have better care if they are not living in extreme poverty.  Continue reading

It’s Hard to Think of a Crime More Hideous

21 Jul

Blog post by Gemma W., Team Ethiopia 2012

Criminal, sexual exploitation of children – also called Human Trafficking – is the newest, most profuse and fasting growing form of slavery that the nations of this world have had to combat in nearly a decade.

Despite the numbers, which appear to be growing, Michelle Banchelet, the head of UN Women, says, “it’s difficult to think of a crime more hideous and shocking than human trafficking. Yet, it is one of the fastest growing and lucrative crimes.” So it’s not surprising that human trafficking is estimated to be a $32 billion industry.

This is not just an issue in the third world countries. This monstrosity takes place in industrialized countries, as well. Trafficking is now affecting 161 countries worldwide. They’ve estimated somewhere between 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year. Of those victims, roughly 80 percent are female, and 50 percent are children.

It’s the runaways and other at-risk youth that are the prime targets for pimps and traffickers. They’ve mastered the art of manipulation and deception in order to exploit these victims in the commercial sex industry. It could be as simple as a “job offer” to be a nanny for a wealthy family overseas. Once the victim is reeled in, threats and violence will be enough to keep her there in most cases. After all, the life expectancy of a child prostitute is only 7 years.

Gemma resides in Canada and will be serving with Journey117 this month on Team Ethiopia. 

Just as My Children…

19 Jul

Blog post by Gemma C., Team Ethiopia 2012

Over the years I have read papers and books, watched movies and documentaries, sat in lectures, and heard many news reports telling of the many terrible things that people all over the world have to endure, day after day. There is poverty, lack of access to clean water, child labor, child soldiering, HIV/AIDS, so many factors contributing to the orphan crisis. Each of these is so difficult to think about, and so hard to understand why so many have to deal with it, but the one which inevitably hits me the most is child prostitution and child sex-trafficking. I took a little wander around the Web this evening, and 15 minutes into the stories and statistics of children abducted, put on menus and sold for sex, and I am just sick again at the realization of what goes on, and the prevalence of it.

This blog post is supposed to share statistics, quotes, stories and information to open your eyes to the reality of child sex-trafficking and exploitation. I have been staring at this screen for an hour now, my mind is reeling, and I don’t even know where to start. The statistics are easy to find, websites www.love146.org, www.sctnow.org and www.stopdemand.org are just a few out there. The sad reality is that twice while I was researching, a link for a webpage or a video was wrong, and the default pages that showed up were advertisements for prostitution and pornography. How twisted is that? Continue reading

The Rampage of Disease

18 Jul

Blog post by Saundra P., Team Ethiopia 2012

An orphan is described as a vulnerable child under age 18 who has lost one or both parents. What would cause a child to lose their parents you ask? One orphan causing issue is diseases that lead to death like HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and water borne diseases. Many of these diseases are preventable.

HIV/AIDS is a worldwide epidemic, in which the largest cases, around 22.9 million, occur in Sub-Sahara Africa. AIDS is spread through child abduction, prostitution, and slavery. Orphans are especially vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS because they lack the basic needs like food, clothing and shelter. A desperate, abandoned child may turn to prostitution to provide for themselves. A poor, widowed mother may sell her child into slavery to provide for her other children.

Malaria is a disease we do not hear much about in the United States, largely because it was eliminated between 1947 and 1951. In developing countries, Malaria is a prevalent disease that puts 3.3 billion people at risk, which is about half the world’s population. About 90% of deaths caused by malaria occur in Africa among children who are less than five years of age.

Continue reading