We see them. We see the gripping photos of children and parents separated from each other on the U.S. southern border. Our hearts are broken. We also hear the political arguments and the unhelpful moral grandstanding.
We see the social media posts, some from truly thoughtful people and some from people who seem highly concerned with this issue until the next election cycle. In the public discourse we see the depths of compassion juxtaposed with the glibness of scoring cheap political points.
We read powerful and often one sided reporting. We hear people who are involved in Christian organizations state that the only Christ-like position on this issue is to oppose this practice and insure that families get to stay together.
We are missionaries with great compassion for those who want nothing more than hope and opportunity for their children. We are serving alongside a movement of believers who have decided that we will be part of the solution to sex slavery and all forms of modern slavery and human trafficking. It is through this lens that we examine the border situation.
We do need to take a stand on this practice of separation but it is an issue that we have found conflicting. It is not simple! We do not want to see parents and children separated. However, if the parents in question are not using a passport or other documents to prove that the children who are with them are indeed theirs, separation seems to be the only safe alternative for the children. Why would we think this, especially when there is a tidal wave of people who are against this practice. Because we are very familiar with the numbers.
- According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports the percentage of child trafficking victims has risen dramatically in the last several years.
- Of every three child victims, two are girls and one is a boy.
- The gender and age profile of victims globally is 59% Women – 14% Men – 17% Girls and 10% Boys.
- 600,000 to 800,000 women, children and men are bought and sold across international borders every year and exploited for forced labor or commercial sex according to the U.S. Government.
- When internal trafficking victims are added to the estimates, the number of victims annually is in the range of 2 to 4 million.
- 50% of those victims are estimated to be children.
- 2 million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade according to UNICEF.
- There are 1.5 Million human trafficking victims in the United States.
- Revenue from human trafficking has surpassed the illegal sale of drugs. (Drugs are used once and they are gone. Victims of child trafficking can be used and abused repeatedly).
- The $32 billion-a-year industry of human trafficking is on the rise and is in all 50 states according to the U.S. Government.
- 4.5 Million of trafficked persons are sexually exploited.
- The average life expectancy of an underaged traffic victim is 4 to 7 horrific years. (The most common means of death for these victims is suicide, abuse and untreated STDs).
These are statistics from 2012, the year we first began to look into this issue.
Modern day slavery is real! The southern border of the United States is a major human trafficking corridor. Perhaps the responsible thing to do on the U.S. border is to separate minors from adults when they enter without documentation until it can be established that the adults are actually parents and the children are not actually victims.
We post these thoughts knowing that the knee-jerk reaction for many will be to filter these things through the lens of their political leanings. We ask that you, dear reader, resist this temptation. We know that this topic is fraught with politics but we have tried to warn about something more important than politics, modern day slavery.
The one political statement we will make is this: Unfortunately, we will have to leave it up to our politicians to come up with a humane way to keep families together while at the same time protecting the nearly unbelievable numbers of victims being trafficked at the borders. Although we have little faith in politicians from either side of the isle to be able to act in the interest of anyone but themselves. The power that we do have it to apply pressure on our elected officials to put aside the hatred that they hold for the opposite party and actually do something to protect the children who are caught up in the dangerous situation at the U.S. border.
Today is June 19. Juneteenth. It is the day that we celebrate the end of the U.S. Civil War and the emancipation of all slaves in the U.S. The end of the stain of America’s original sin of slavery. We work diligently for the end of modern slavery, and we hope to see the end of human trafficking and sex slavery in our lifetime!
What Can You Do?
You can help us fight human trafficking before it begins, ensuring a child has opportunities by becoming a Child of Promise supporter. This is the organization that we are involved with because it goes beyond providing a child with financial support, it gives you the opportunity to speak into the life of a child through letter exchanges. You can be a supporting voice in the life of a deserving child! We also love that this program joins children with the local church, giving them a group of believers to help them along in life. You can click here to check out the Children of Promise website for further details.
With much love,The Downings