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Right Now, Someone is Being Sold

The existence of human trafficking in our world infuriates me to the point of action. I simply cannot sit still while there are people in slavery. This lucrative, criminal business is underground, so statistics are hard to capture; however, it is believed to be a $150 billion industry with 21 million victims worldwide[1]. Every human trafficking situation looks different, which is why it is important to keep a sharp eye and open mind in order to dig deeper. Some victims may have bruises, distinct branded tattoos, passports taken or sudden withdrawals. Some trafficking victims have physical restraints which keep them in their situations, while others have been manipulated to the point where they believe there are no other options for them in life. Some are domestic victims and U.S. citizens, while others are foreign nationals. They can be trafficked by strangers or by family members. Traffickers and victims can be males or by females. Victims can be adults or children. Some are forced to work at elderly care facilities and some are forced to sell magazines. We must take the time to understand the complexity of this injustice.

While I have the free will to work where I want, sleep in my warm bed and have coffee dates, there are people forced to have sex with strangers for money or forced to work with little or no pay under terrible conditions. I believe that as a community we must work together with law enforcement, government, other nonprofit organizations, and other members in our society with wisdom, courage, and faith.

I work at an organization called The Landing, which is Houston’s first drop-in center for survivors of human trafficking and those in the commercial sex industry. It is located on the Bissonnet track between Beltway 8 and Highway 59. The Landing is a safe, non-judgmental space where these survivors can come for case management, counseling, food, clothing, computer access, and rest. We also teach a course called “Ending the Game”, a coercion resiliency program created by Survivor Leader, Rachel Thomas. The Landing serves to stand in the gap between the streets and longer term shelters. You see, many victims do not identify as victims. In addition, many of them are not ready for shelters and therefore do not have the support that they may need. Through our loving services, we build trust with our clients, which helps them open up to us about their situations and needs. The Landing staff and volunteers tell our clients they are beautiful and worthy. This replaces the lies that their traffickers told them or made them feel: that they were garbage. The positive truths our clients hear may lead them to be more open to take the necessary steps towards freedom. To get the word out about our services, we do street outreaches and accompany law enforcement on some of their operations. Our services are extremely important for those navigating the line between freedom and slavery – especially because they’ve never been given the choice of true freedom.

There are multiple ways the community can help fight human trafficking. Here are a few ideas:

  • Put in the National Human Trafficking Hotline in your phone right now. The number is 888-3737-888. This is the number to call if you have any tips related to human trafficking or if you meet a potential victim.
  • Get involved with a local anti-trafficking organization, such as The Landing or the Houston Rescue & Restore Coalition.
  • Give financially to support anti-trafficking work. Quality services take financial backing, and we believe that these survivors deserve quality care.
  • Pray for those in bondage – that they would be freed. Also, pray for those fighting this injustice.

I’ll be honest: this is not an easy fight, but right now someone is being sold and that is not ok. There is much work to do, so I hope you will be wise, bold and get involved! The hope that I see in our clients’ eyes is what keeps me going. I leave you with one of my favorite Bible verses which is a reminder of why I am an abolitionist: “And this is what the Lord requires of you: to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8.

 

[1] International Labor Organization 2012/2014; Trafficking in Persons Report, 2016

Posted by Natasha Paradeshi on 11 Jan 2017

About the author

Co-founder/Executive Director at The Landing