The following facts should cause us all to be shocked into action:
- Sex trafficking is estimated to be more than a $35 billion industry.
- Every two minutes a child is exploited in the sex industry.
- Approximately 21 million people are enslaved.
- There are more slaves today than at any other point in human history.
If you think this horrible crime occurs only in third world countries, think again:
- American sex tourists account for 25 percent of the global sex tourism market.
- It’s estimated that more than 100,000 American children have been forced into the commercial sex trade in America.
- In the U.S., one in three runaways is approached by a sex trafficker within the first 48 hours of being on the streets.
The source for this information is Abolition International (AI), an organization headquartered in Nashville, TN, committed to ending sex trafficking and exploitation through education, empowerment and comprehensive restorative care. Its vice president for education is DMU graduate Jeffrey Barrows, D.O.’78, M.A. In 2005, then an obstetrician/gynecologist on staff of the Christian Medical Association, he was asked by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to research the health consequences of human trafficking.
“I said, ‘I’d be glad to help, but what is human trafficking?’” Dr. Barrows recalls. “I went through a series of shocks on what it is and how prevalent it is.”
You can read more in the spring issue of DMU Magazine about Dr. Barrows and his critical efforts to educate fellow health care professionals to recognize the signs of trafficking among their patients. In the meantime, find ways to educate yourself on this heinous crime. While we need to fight trafficking 365 days a year, now is a good time to do so, as January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
In Des Moines, the Christian Social Action’s Human Trafficking Task Force is sponsoring an informational series about trafficking:
- On Thursday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m., the Fleur Cinema & Cafe (4545 Fleur Drive) will present a documentary produced by Exodus Cry about modern sex slavery, titled “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls.” Attendees can make free-will donations, the proceeds of which will benefit the Polaris Project, a Washington, DC-based organization fighting human trafficking worldwide.
- On Monday, Jan. 27, a panel discussion on human trafficking in Iowa will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Plymouth Church’s Waveland Hall (4126 Ingersoll Avenue).
- On Tuesday, Feb. 4, also at Plymouth Church beginning at 6:30 p.m., trafficking survivors will share their stories.
- On Monday, Feb. 24, also at Plymouth Church at 6:30 p.m. will be a presentation and discussion on global human trafficking.
According to Dr. Barrows, health care professionals, law enforcement personnel and the clergy are among the most likely segments of society to encounter trafficked individuals. Make note of the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 888-373-7888 or by text to BeFree (233733), and check out the resources at the sites linked to this post. Someday you may encounter and be in a position to save someone from slavery.