Want to make slavery even more of an atrocity? Charge the victims with a crime and let the perpetrators go free.
Who would do that?
American law enforcement, way too many times.
“Some of the women selling sex there [backpage.com] are adults voluntarily in the business, but many are women or girls under the control of pimps who take every penny they earn, brand them with tattoos and beat them if they don’t earn enough. Yet, in the United States, we typically arrest the victims rather than the pimps or the johns. Rectifying that would be a step toward modern emancipation.”
Just the day before Kristof’s column appeared, an article on lancasteronline.com said a 17-year-old girl was one of 7 charged in prostitution here in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This young woman is a minor, which makes her a victim, not a criminal. We need to learn to bring freedom to captives, not charges.
There are many opportunities to learn about modern slavery—estimated to have enslaved 20,000 to 30,000 people worldwide—in Lancaster and around the world. Check out some of these organizations:
- Lancaster Anti-Trafficking Network connects agencies that work in Lancaster to stop the trafficking of individuals and provide services to victims who are rescued. Like the LATN Facebook page and you’ll see valuable new articles and training events pop up in your newsfeed. Your city or county may have a similar network. Search it out.
- Love146 is an international organization working to stop the trafficking of children. It has its own Lancaster branch, where locals can become more involved in stopping this international scourge.
- The Exodus Road is “is a network of surveillance teams and individuals” doing “covert investigation and rescue” of children caught in sex slavery. You can provide financing for surveillance equipment or simply help them get the word out to others.
- International Justice Mission works not only to rescue those who are powerless against violence and who are enslaved—whether in factories or brothels— but to change laws so others won’t become victims. They are currently looking for employees around the world in various fields, from drivers and admin assistants to lawyers and accountants.
Knowledge is power, the old saying goes. How much knowledge do you possess about slavery happening where you live and around the world? The information is there. Scoop it up. Pray. Pray that law enforcement will stop arresting victims. And then act as God leads.