Imagine finding out that your daughter or sister had been kidnapped and sold, and not just them alone, but all their friends, their whole class, their whole year, and their school set on fire, and then little help comes to try and find them. If this happened on that scale in the West, I expect every resource would be poured into the search, the media coverage constant until the situation was resolved.
I was going to write something on a lighter note today, but the news of almost three hundred 16-18 year old girls from a school in Northern Nigeria last month has got to me, and many others as I’m aware. Many are now campaigning to ‘Bring back our girls’, joining the cry of protesters in Nigeria. If what the Boko Haram leader says is true the girls have already been forced to marry for a bride price of $12, or trafficked across borders of neighbouring countries and sold. Once trafficking victims are moved and sold on it becomes very difficult to trace them. It can take years. I pray that every effort is made by the Nigerian government and the international community to rescue them.
This large trafficking ‘event’ has hit the media now, but trafficking happens in every country across the world, every day. Not for the same reasons as this Islamist group, but every day girls and boys, men and women are enslaved. Even in our own back yard. The estimate is that there are around 30 million people internationally who are in modern-day slavery. Most victims are female and the majority of them are subjected to sexual servitude. Some waking up every day to the prospect of being sold to 40 or more men a day. When you look at the facts and the statistics it can be overwhelming, the injustice too great to deal with. But every one of the numbers is another human being. The worst and most tragic statistic I find is that only 1-2% of victims are ever rescued. If things stay as they are most will never escape and have the chance to live a free life.
Until about a year and a half ago I was aware of human trafficking, had started to pick up on what the A21 campaign was doing, but it hadn’t registered that I could really make any difference. My friend Sally gave me a copy of the book Undaunted by Christine Caine, the story the founder of the A21 campaign. I recommend reading it. It’s one of those books that can change your life. At the beginning of the book, Christine tells the story of her meeting with fourteen rescued trafficking victims in Thessaloniki, Greece. At one point in the meeting, a Russian girl called Sonia who had arrived at the shelter the day before shouts at her,
‘”If what you are telling me is true,” she yelled, “if what you say about your God is true – then where were you? Where have you been? Why didn’t you come sooner?”‘¹
That hit me in the stomach when I read it. How many times have I known about an injustice, and though I couldn’t solve the whole problem, I could have done something, even a little, and didn’t. Trying to abolish modern-day slavery is huge but, but even if it is to pray, raise awareness and to take part in what the A21 campaign and other organizations are doing, it’s something. It’s a start.
if you want to read more on the subject click here to visit the A21 campaign website for more facts and things you can do to end injustice. There are many other organizations too like the International Justice Mission, World Vision and Stop the Traffik.
My dream is that we will end it together and bring back every trafficked girl, and boy.
Sources: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27298614, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/opinion/sunday/kristof-bring-back-our-girls.html?_r=0, www.a21campaign.org
¹ 'Undaunted', Copyright ©2012 by Christine Caine, p21-22