Farmville Enterprise July 17, 2019
In the news the past few weeks we have heard even more about the horrors of human trafficking. Many of us find it almost unimaginable that this modern-day form of slavery could go on in our country currently, but it does. While approximately 51% of these victims are women and 20% are girls, men and boys also fall prey to these abuses. More than half of all people who are trafficked are sexually exploited. Sex trafficking, in particular, takes place in an assortment of venues including fake massage parlors, escort services, residential brothels, truck stops, strip clubs, hotels and motels. The Polaris Project National Hotline received notification of 6,244 cases of sex trafficking in the United States in 2017. Given the recent arrests of a billionaire registered sex offender and one of the most successful R & B male artists, let’s consider the sexual exploitation of minors specifically.
According to the law in the U.S., any person under the age of 18 who is induced into a commercial sex act is a victim of sex trafficking. “’Commercial sex act’ is defined very broadly to include ‘any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.’ In other words, it is illegal both to offer and to obtain a child, and cause that child to engage in any kind of sexual activity in exchange for anything of value, whether it be money, goods, personal benefit, in-kind favors, or some other kind of benefit.” (U.S. DOJ Citizen’s Guide to U.S. Federal Law on the Prostitution of Children) Sex traffickers use debt bondage, lies, manipulation, threats and countless forms of coercion to get children and adults to engage in commercial sex acts. There does not have to be any crossing of state or national lines. Often, runaway and homeless youth are targets. It is estimated that well over one million children worldwide are exploited each year in the commercial sex trade, with up to 300,000 of them being in the U.S.
It is difficult to fathom the trauma these precious victims have faced but we know they are near to the heart of Jesus. The J.B. Phillips translation has quite a unique presentation of Hebrews 13:4-5. “Both honourable marriage and chastity should be honoured by all of you. God Himself will judge those who traffic in the bodies of others or defile the relationship of marriage.”
Eugene Peterson in The Message translates the text this way. “Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them had happened to you. Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex.” (Hebrews 13:3-5)
Anything that we as followers of Christ can do to increase awareness of human trafficking, donate to organizations combatting it and to buy Fair Trade items is important. Please note that the United Nation’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons will be Tuesday, July 30. Locally we can keep informed through and be supportive of Eastern North Carolina Stop Human Trafficking Now which was founded by Pam Strickland of Farmville.