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Human Trafficing: Slave Trade of Today

Updated on June 4, 2012

A monsterous crime

Many of us have heard that there are more human beings enslaved today than at any other time in history. As your basic run of the mill (yet I like to think well read) American, I learned the seriousness of this issue only two years ago. This hub is the story of my introduction to human trafficing, and my thoughts and responses to it.

"Aren't you trying to get them to stop being prostitutes? "

I find out about modern day slavery at church

About two years ago my church advertised that one of the overseas missionaries we support would visit to report on his work. The meeting, in a beautiful hilltop home with panoramic views of the California mountains, opened the eyes of this suburban mom. A hush fell over the group as the pastor described his recent work successfully planting Christian church communities inside brothels. One person tentatively raised a hand. "But aren't you trying to get them to stop being prostitutes? I mean, how can a person be a prostitute and a Christian at the same time?"

The pastor looked down, probably pondering the disconnect between this world of rolling hills and expensive homes and the one he lived and worked in. "To answer that, I'm going to tell you the story of one of the women. We'll call her Anna."

"Anna was a Muslim widow with two small children, and no family to help her. Muslim countries don't have many jobs available for women, and Anna didn't know what to do. She saw an ad offering restaurant jobs, and though it was far away, it seemed her only option. She answered the ad, and was soon on a boat taking her to her new "home." After arrival she discovered that this place was not a restaurant. She was not allowed to leave, but did have the opportunity to send some money home regularly to care for her children."

"Why don't I encourage Anna to leave? The brothel she lives in is run by organized crime. If she tries to get away they will kill her as a warning to the other women."

Informative, not too disturbing

The tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.

-Matthew 21:31

The Pastor's story continues

"They don't like to let the women out much, but they will let us in. Mostly my wife does this work. She leads bible studies for the women, she offers counseling services. Mostly, she shows these women that someone cares. Lots of women have become Christians, including Anna. The brothel owners actually like the bible studies: the women are less depressed, and the brothel owners think they will be better prostitutes that way."

He paused. "The people who don't like it are the other pastors in my area. None of the churches in the city will accept prostitutes. I've pretty much been ostrasized over this. They call me 'The Prostitute's Pastor.' " Now he grinned. "But I like the name. I think 'The Prostitute's Pastor' is a good thing to be."

"We do encourage them to save their money if they can, and buy their way out. If they can get out that way, we will let them come live in the compound here, learn some job skills, hopefully find another way to make a living."

"For the time being, we are loving them where they are."

Christianity and sex slavery

This situation made me think over for the first time the response of the early church to sex slavery. No compassionate person is in favor of sex slavery, and the family minded see sex for sale as undermining marriages and destabilizing family life. But prostitution was far from illegal in the Roman world of early Christianity. The law of Moses forbids a man from making his daughter a prostitute, but the Jews were the exception. Also, many if not most converts to Christianity were pagan, not Jewish. Rome, having conquered so much of the world, was full of slaves. The city of Rome itself housed more enslaved persons than free men and women. How would the church react when a house slave from a Roman household wanted to be a Christian? This slave couldn't resist the sexual advances of anyone in the family that owned her. Would the church turn her away because of that? What about a slave who had been sold into a brothel? Would they refuse to let this person join them?

I don't have any proof, but I think the reaction of the above pastor was more common in the early church. People of the Roman world were pretty aware of the social realities. Our culture takes self determination for granted, and so we are more likely to see a prostitute not as a victim of violence and exploitation, but as making a bad lifestyle choice.

For more about early Christian response to slavery, and in specific sex slavery, see the section about Saint Patrick in "How the Irish Saved Civilization" by Tomas Cahill.

The modern face of human trafficing

When I first heard that there are more people in slavery today than at any other time, I realized that technology makes enslavement easier. Transportation was always an issue for slave runners of the past: so many Africans died during the horrific Middle Passage, ditto with Roman forced marches of the conquered. Today we have ships with modern engines, cars, high powered weapons to threaten and intimidate, antibiotics to deal with the inevitable health issues of the crowded and terrorized. It's even easier today than in the past.

As I learned, the modern world with its awareness of women's rights and modern economy may offer in some ways another life for recovering victims of human trafficing, but the hurdles are high. In the example of Anna above, providing for her children in another way will be a challenge, even if she buys off her captors. The handlers of women like Anna encourage alcohol and drug addiction, since this keeps the women in debt and even more controllable. Anna will need alot of support to find other work: if she does not have this support, slipping back into prostitution is all too common.

For women who enter this exploitation young, they are kept without the most rudimentary life skills. How can they survive in the outside world? Both they and their handlers know they cannot, without a great deal of help and support, both practical and emotional. And where will they find this?

A Great Website To Sign Petitions Against Human Trafficing

A hubber who commented on this hub told me about this website. It gives updates about a variety of social issues, including human trafficing. Most ordinary people feel they can't do anything about such a far reaching problem, but as a Western person you have the opportunity to exercise your right of free speech to sign petitions to let elected officials and companies know that you disapprove of laws and trade practices which make trafficing easier. The site constantly updates information about human rights issues and related petitions:


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    • graceomalley profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      ArtzGirl-Thank you for the link. I think awareness really needs to be raised, as many glamourize prostitution, and even some women's rights advocates are in favor of legalization, thinking that this would improve life for women in the trade. The example of Holland isn't talked about much here - Holland legalized prostitution in the name of "freedom," but a followup study showed that organized crime controled (and of course abused) the prostitutes even more after legalization. My own veiw is that our culture either glamourizes or demonizes the sex trade - rarely sees it as an exploitation of human beings that harms all of us.

    • ArtzGirl profile image


      7 years ago from San Diego

      I wasn't aware of this issue until seeing the movie by the name "Human Trafficking" --

      (Part 1)



      I had NO IDEA what really went on in the industry of prostitution BEFORE seeing this film. If you get a chance, I highly advise taking the time to see the full film. It shows about 5 different victims of this crime and how they each were brought into this horrible industry.

      I will never look at prostitution the same way after seeing this film. It is an excellent movie for creating awareness of a Major Issue within our society.

      This is not just an International Issue, there are numbers of girls who are kidnapped in the USA and carried across state lines. We really need to put an end to this.

    • graceomalley profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Yes, kitty, it is a very big phenomenon, and with little awareness I'm afraid.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Kitty Fields 

      7 years ago from Summerland

      wow, this cuts to the core. it is an extremely disgusting and sad issue that unfortunately plagues the world today, without many people even realizing that these things are happening to our young women all over the world. we need to do everything we can to save and protect these young ladies. thanks for sharing, grace. voted up from me!

    • graceomalley profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Ah, I missed the link the first time. This is a great site, i'm bookmarking it. Thank you!

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 

      7 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      Did you check out that link? You can sign a petition there asking for stronger laws

    • graceomalley profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      I think you are right - there is a great deal of denial. This crime is very lucrative - I wonder if that is connected to the lack of coverage. Too many people are making too much money. I also think demonizing the sex slaves themselves as "bad people" is very easy, and fuels lack of compassion for them.

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 

      7 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      This is so sad. I have been looking in to this myself.By seeing no comments here it seems like people do not want to know or think about it. Not until it hits home. So sad


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