Tag Archives: Child Trafficking

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

Leaving My Comfort Zone

21 Sep

Blog post by Emily B., Team Haiti 2012

My journey to the point of going on this trip to Haiti really began when I first learned about the new job my dear friend Emily Hilburn took. It’s been such a blessing to see how God’s used her in this ministry, to pray for her and to support her.

A little over a year ago, my office got a flyer from OATH (Oklahomans Against Trafficking Humans). Since then, I’ve done research on human trafficking right here in Oklahoma City and have seen first-hand what the local Church is doing to help this sad and heart-breaking situation. I had no idea it was so prevalent! Anyway, while this isn’t an orphan issue per se, we’ve been learning in our Journey 117 conference calls that it is an ‘orphan causing issue.’ Through all this, I can see how the Lord’s been preparing my heart for going on this particular trip to Haiti.

My final decision to actually go on this trip was through God totally opening the door wide (and through Emily’s suggestion and hinting that I should go). Work schedule worked out, Emily will be leading our team, and the day I decided to go, I happened to read that day’s Operation World email about a country to pray for – Haiti!

For me, this is a step of obedience. This is very much out of my comfort zone – but since when is the Christian life supposed to be comfortable? The Bible says Jesus cares for the orphans…so I should too! He’s challenging me in new ways, and I’m seeing His heart for orphans pretty much daily now…we haven’t even gone on the trip! I have no idea what He has planned after this trip, but I trust Him and know He’ll use this. It will be hard to go for only a week, but I hope and pray there will be life-long changes while we’re there (for the Haitians we meet and for the members on our team)…or at least seeds planted. I’m thankful we’ll be helping existing ministries that will still be there after we leave.

These little ones we’ll come in contact with are precious in God’s sight…He loves them more than any of us can ever imagine!

Emily resides in Oklahoma City and will be serving with Journey 117 in October on Team Haiti.

Pondering the Word ‘Orphan’

19 Sep

Blog post by Katy P., Team Haiti 2012

When I think of the word ‘orphan’, there are a lot of words that come to mind. Two of the dominate words are: starving and parent-less. There are a lot of orphans that are starving and have no parents, but there are also orphans who have to deal with much more terrifying and deadly things than that. Poverty, child labor, HIV/AIDS, sex trafficking, etc. are not the first things that come to mind when I think of orphans….but they should be.

Knowing that children all over the world face these kinds of terrible things makes me want to help them in any way possible. One of the reasons I am going on this trip to Haiti is to see firsthand what these kids go through on a regular basis. I want to be able to come back with a better understanding and know how to tell others what is going on and how they can help. I not only want to help with their everyday needs of clothing, food, and supplies, I want them to know that there is a loving, caring God who loves them unconditionally. He will be there no matter what happens in their lives.

On my first trip to Russia, I got to work with orphans. At one of the orphanages there were rooms with babies who never got held; they were fed by their bottles being propped up by pillows and they lay in their cribs all day staring at the ceiling. There was another room with kids that were disabled; they had all kinds of toys, but they were not allowed  to go anywhere because of their disability. In that room there was one little girl who had no legs, so she would scoot to me using her arms.  She was so happy. Another boy had no arms or legs, so he would roll to me. Still there were other rooms I could not go into because those were the rooms with the “sick” kids. I was never told what the symptoms were; all they could tell me was that the kids were very “sick.” Seeing and hearing all they went through really got to me and broke my heart. It got me thinking of what I could do and how I could tell others about how they could also help.

I realized that I am happiest when I am helping someone else. Whether it be somewhere in another country or right next door, I love working with kids. I can walk into a restaurant, store, church and anywhere else, and have a child smile or wave to me and it makes my day. I love to smile or wave back and to know that my smile or wave has made their day. It is one of the best feelings in the world.

A lot of people ask me “Why Haiti” and I honestly don’t know how to answer them. God has opened this door for me and I am going to step through it. Although I don’t know what is going to happen on this trip, I know that God has it under control, and I can’t wait to see how God is going to use me for His glory.

Katy resides in Oneida, KY and will be serving with Journey 117 in October on Team Haiti.

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. 

In the Shoes of a Child Soldier

14 Jul

Blog post by Caroline M., Team Ethiopia 2012

Pause for a minute.  Put yourself in the shoes of a child soldier.

You are ten years old. An army comes to your home, puts a gun in your hands and tells you to shoot your family.  If you don’t do it, they will shoot you. After being forced to kill the ones you love, you leave with them to become apart of their army. Day in and day out you are forced to kill and rape innocent people only to hold on to your own life.  You participate in combat, lay mines and explosives, spy, act as decoys and are exposed to sexual slavery. You witness violent deaths and mutilations. You are brainwashed to do nothing but kill and destroy. This is how approximately 300,000 child soldiers live everyday.

Child soldiers are boys and girls who fight in adult wars, missing out on the safe childhood that many of us take for granted.  In 2004, as much as 100,000 children were actively involved in armed conflict in Africa.  These soldiers can be as young as seven.  Below are some alarming statistics.

80% of children aged 8 to 13 in Sierre Leone had suffered the death of a close family member.

74% saw somebody being killed or injured with machetes.

68% saw somebody being burned to death or tortured.

10% of girls have been gang raped.

66% have been in a situation where they expected to die.

Witnessing your parents death, being separated from your family and being forced to participate in violent acts can leave a child scarred.  This may lead to physical and psychological problems such as: general poor health, physical abuse or deprivation, drug addiction, sexual abuse, exploitation and unwanted pregnancy, serious war injuries and mental and emotional trauma.

You can’t pretend this doesn’t exist.  So what are you gonna do?  Spread the word.  Everyone needs to know about this horrible reality.

Caroline resides in Pennsylvania and will be serving with Journey117 this month on Team Ethiopia.  

Something to Believe In

5 Jul

Blog post Alyssa G., Team Ethiopia 2012

I joined the Ethiopia team because I love people and knowing that there are kids that have no one to take care of them, love them, or protect them breaks my heart. As Christians, it’s our job to protect and fight for those who can not do it for themselves. I watched a documentary that had a large group of people who were kidnapping children from their homes and would kill the families, leaving the children as orphans. They would use the children for whatever they needed. They used them to make money through human trafficking and made them children soldiers. At one point in the documentary, they were interviewing a boy and he said that he would rather die than keep living. He said there was nothing left to live for and he had lost all hope in a better life. So, it is my heart to go and try to show the kids the love that they are longing for and restore the hope that has been robed from them and give them something to believe in again.

Alyssa resides in Texas and will be serving with Journey117 in July on Team Ethiopia. 

Modern Day Slavery

14 Jun

Blog post by Cathleen Brown, Team Iraq 2012

“And, sir, when we think of eternity, and of the future consequences of all human conduct, what is there in this life that should make any man contradict the dictates of his conscience, the principles of justice, the laws of religion, and of God?” 

William Wilberforce stated these words while fighting for freedom for slaves in 1781, in England in front of the British Parliament.   He believed it was the job of ordinary men, not just political leaders to stop the injustice of slavery.  In 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing anyone held as a slave.  The end drew near for the African slave trade due to persuasive words, incessant ambition, and continual conviction from God by these God fearing men.  Little did they know, the slave trade would still continue more than 200 years after Wilberforce and 150 years after Lincoln.  It would occur again, and not openly accepted, but just as heinous as before;  hidden, with less acceptance in culture, yet driven by money hungry pedophiles and ordinary men.  These men are not dissimilar to the men of the past.  It is human sex trafficking, the second-largest organized crime in the world.

It is estimated that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year in internationally and between 50 and 60 percent of the children are under the age of 16 (UNICEF).  Human trafficking of orphans internationally and domestically is driven by pornography and greed.  Winfrey defines child sex trafficking:

Sex Trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person forced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years.

Orphans are vulnerable to trafficking as they are emotionally, mentally and physically not able to defend themselves, they have no one to stand up for them them and due to poverty, are often sold by family members so others may have food and shelter.  In order to prevent the trafficking of orphans, there must be a place for the children to go that is an alternative to the deplorable option of trafficking life where they are loved and cared for.  The communities need education, prevention, strict justice for the traffickers, and rehabilitation for the children taken out of the sex trade. Continue reading

IJM Opened My Eyes

11 Jun

Blog post by Heather Jensen, Team Iraq 2012

The Team Iraq ladies dressed in traditional Kurdish dress.

“You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.” [Psalm 10:17-18]

A couple of years ago, an organization called “International Justice Mission” came and spoke at our church.  The president of this organization, Gary Haugen, wrote a book entitled Terrify No More, which is from Psalm 10. This book details the many children who are enslaved within child brothels, forced to have sex with strange men. I was heartbroken by the stories of these children’s lives and the horrors that are forced upon them.  Young girls are sold by their families, deceived by people close to them, or kidnapped into this industry. Countries where child prostitution is prevalent include Thailand, Cambodia, India, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. It is estimated that 40% of prostitutes in Thailand are children. In Cambodia, 1/3 of all prostitutes are under the age of 18 and in India, an estimated 1.2 million children are involved in prostitution. Sadly, an estimated $12 billion a year is made on child trafficking, both around the world and in North America.

While reading Gary’s book and researching this topic, I came across some of the most horrific truths of this world. There are people who travel to the countries listed above for the specific purpose of having sex with children. About 25% of child sex tourists are US citizens. IJM runs undercover operations to free these children. They have caught on tape conversations with North American sex tourists who, while unaware of being taped, have offered advice on how to get away with visiting these countries for sex with children.  I read about a young girl who was sold by her neighbour to a brothel. She was forced to have sex with a grown man and when she cried during this horrific act, they taped her mouth shut. I read about brothel owners beating the girls who tried to escape. I read about “sex parties” being arranged and groups of girls being sent to hotels to service sex tourists .

Orphans are so vulnerable to being trapped within a life like this. The orphan is preyed upon by the greedy and demented acts, which reveal the worst of human depravity. To view a short IJM video about the issue of human trafficking, click on this link.

If you want to know more about what’s being done about this issue, visit IJM’s website.

Heather resides in Canada and is currently serving with Journey117 in Iraq. 

Eyes Wide Open

18 May

Heather on her first mission trip at Lebanese Evangelical School in Ain Zhalta, Lebanon. (April 2011)

Blog post by Heather, Team Iraq 2012

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with many children. God gave me a love for them from an early age and has opened many doors of opportunity for serving with children in different capacities. It gives me great joy to work with children and each one I’ve met has been a blessing to me. Over the past couple of years, the Lord has opened my eyes to the abuse and neglect of children around the world and also the teachings of His word in regards to the orphan. I was able to read stories of children in bonded slavery and those trapped within child brothels. I had opportunities to hear missionaries speak in our church about how they uprooted their lives and families to follow the commands of Isaiah 1:17 and defend the cause of the fatherless and plead the case of the widow. I served alongside my parents who are missionaries in Lebanon, where we visited a girl’s home and I was able to befriend a young girl who experienced the neglect and abandonment of her family. All of this has placed a burden on my heart for the children of this world. I look forward to the Lord working in me and through me on this trip to accomplish His purposes in fulfilling His word – to look after orphans and widows in their distress.

Heather resides in Ontario, Canada and will be serving with Journey 117 in June on the Iraq team.

 

Preying on the Fatherless

15 May

Blog post by Tyler M., Team Iraq 2012

In today’s world, human trafficking is a huge problem in not only third world countries, but all over the globe.  Unfortunately, orphans are prime targets for human traffickers for many reasons.  By definition, orphans lack the protection and supervision of parents and much of the time have no close family that will or can take them in.  Because of this, it is much easier for traffickers to come in and take them away without anyone even blinking twice.  There are over 145 million orphans worldwide, and that’s not even including children who are victims of abandonment or children who are sold/trafficked. Every year about 1.2 million children are trafficked and 2 million children are sexually exploited in the commercial sex industry.  Without the exceedingly high number of orphans in the world today, child slavery and trafficking would decline massively because traffickers would have a much more difficult time finding easy prey.  In essence, solving the orphan problem basically eradicates the problem of child trafficking.  We just need to act.

Rescue an orphan. Change the world.

Tyler resides in New Jersey and will be serving with Journey 117 in June on the Iraq team.