EPPN Alert: It is Time to End Human Trafficking
To fight domestic child sex trafficking is to recognize "the spark of divinity that is in every person," Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi announced as she signed the "Our Daughters are Not for Sale Proclamation" and denounced the scourge of buying and selling American children for sex and labor. Leader Pelosi was joined by Republican and Democratic women of Congress and young American survivors of sex slavery to demand an end to human trafficking in the United States.
Human trafficking is the world's fastest growing criminal enterprise. Each year, criminals receive an estimated $32 billion for captivating and coercing children and vulnerable adults to perform sexual acts, slave labor, and other incendiary, exploitative functions.
Slavery "is not a term to be used lightly," Leader Pelosi reminded us, but "it applies here."
An estimated 83 percent of children trafficked within the United States are U.S. citizens or legal residents. This threat of modern slavery looms most prominently over those who have already suffered poverty, abuse, and dejection. Seventy percent have a history of sexual and physical abuse, which often leads these children and teens to run away from home. Within their first 48 hours of becoming homeless, one in three teens will be recruited into prostitution or another form of trafficking.
This week, the Senate Finance Committee hosted a hearing to highlight this crime of systemic violence and sexual abuse and to call for a comprehensive approach to eradicating human trafficking in the United States – some of the excellent testimony is available here.
We must address issues of youth homelessness and provide housing for survivors to safely heal from the exploitation and abuse they have suffered. Law enforcement officials and child welfare agencies must receive targeted trainings to identify perpetrators, support survivors, and prevent at-risk children from being sold into slavery. The immigration bill currently before the Senate takes important steps toward these essential protections.
Finally, we must all join The Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to name and rebuke this affront to humanity, which she renounces as "one of the most pervasive kinds of violence against women and girls here and around the globe."
Following her lead, The Episcopal Church is responding to this violence by expanding awareness, ministry, policy and advocacy to eliminate modern slavery, so that we may soon be able to say, 'Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.'