“Young, Asian girls for sale” the sign read—a sign taped to the traffic light post at the corner where I cross the street to go to work for the ELCA Justice for Women program during the week. The sign had an address listed with pull-off tabs like you see on ads for garage sales and mismatched furniture, not for people.
I had heard about human trafficking, I had seen specials on television about it, and I had even taken a job to help work for gender justice and against trafficking, but even in all that I didn’t expect to be confronted by a sign advertising girls, like me (I am a Korean adoptee) for sale in my nice, seemingly safe, middle class Chicago neighborhood.
January 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Human trafficking, or modern day slavery, is the second largest and fastest growing illegal trade in the world where people are in bondage through fraud, force, or coercion. Trafficking can and does affect people of every age, gender, ethnicity, and class from every country, including the United States.
Here are some essential facts about human trafficking:
+ 12.3-27 million: people trafficked worldwide. (U.S. State Department and Free the Slaves)
+ $32 billion: total market value of illegal human trafficking (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)
+ 70 – 80%: percentage of human trafficking victims that are women and girls (U.S. Department of Justice)
During the month of January, you can help end human trafficking by:
1. Raising awareness about human trafficking in your congregation and community.
Start by visiting the ELCA Justice for Women program website (www.elca.org/justiceforwomen) for worship resources, a bulletin insert, workshop sessions for youth and young adults, and more.
2. Contacting your legislators today through the ELCA Washington Office “E-Advocacy Network” at http://ga6.org/campaign/humantrafficking/386ggesrv7dwmte8?.
Human trafficking is a pervasive, destructive reality that reduces people to commodities to be bought, sold, and abused. Though it is currently a frequently hidden crime, you can help bring trafficking and its perpetrators out of the shadows and into plain sight.
“Consider it. Take council. Speak out.” (Judges 19: 30b)
ELCA Justice for Women Program Intern