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An article by my friend Steve Hamilton

August 15, 2007

This article deserves a wide readership. This guy and his wife are amazing people that I fell in love with at first sight. Steve is a man of deep character and deep knowledge especially in the area of human trafficking.

Steve’s blog


Let Justice Roll Down

‘…more people are enslaved today than before the American Civil War…’ – National Geographic Magazine

Did you know that women and children are being bought and sold…right in front of us? The modern-day equivalent of slavery: Trafficking in Persons or Human Trafficking. This is a global issue and we all face it, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination. According to the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons 2006 report: Of the estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people trafficked across international borders annually, 80 percent of victims are female, and over 50 percent are children. Hundreds of thousands of these women and children are bought and sold into sexual slavery and forced labour each year. These modern-day slave traders prey on the vulnerable. Their targets are often children and young women, and their ploys are creative and ruthless, designed to trick, coerce, and win the confidence of potential victims. Very often these ruses involve promises of marriage, employment, educational opportunities, or a better life. By the very nature of the practice of human trafficking, all victims are in life threatening conditions, but children are arguably the most vulnerable. Children lack the strength and maturity to escape from traffickers or to cope with the harmful effects of trafficking.
Human trafficking is an assault on human dignity and an affront to God’s dream of “abundant life” expressed so beautifully in John 10:10: “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.” It is an issue that demands a response, especially from those committed to the Gospel proclamation of rescue, relationship, reconciliation, justice and peace in Christ Jesus. It is sad to say that human trafficking is an emerging problem not just ‘out there’ in the world, but right here in the U.S. According to U.S. Department of Homeland Security intelligence estimates, between 17,000 and 19,000 foreign nationals are trafficked annually into the United States, thus this is an emerging problem that we will face all over the United States. A University of Pennsylvania study on child victims of human trafficking found high instances of trafficking in the following cities: Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, El Paso, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle. We really only need to do the math to see the growing problem after the U.S. federal government passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, in which they estimated approximately 20,000 to 50,000 victims in the United States at that time. As more are trafficked each year into the U.S., this list grows and the business of human trafficking expands to more and more parts of the country. The following are several specific examples that have come to light from across the country in recent years:
• A 14-year-old Nigerian girl was brought to a suburban home outside of Washington, D.C. under the impression she could attend school in the United States. Instead of being enrolled in school, the girl was forced to do domestic labor and take care of the six children in the home, and was subject to physical abuse and sexual assault. (Washington Post, October 14 and November 19, 2004)

• Teenage African immigrant girls in Minneapolis are apparently the newest targets of traffickers of juvenile prostitutes in the region. (St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 27, 2003)

• Two minors from Russia were enticed to go to Alaska to demonstrate folk dances, only to end up being sexually exploited. (CNN, June 14, 2001)

• In Idaho, Bureau of Land Management agents found sheepherders from Peru starving to death under conditions of forced labour. (Sacramento Bee, June 28, 2007)
Children may be trafficked from any region of the world. Most are from underdeveloped, poorer countries. Trafficking especially thrives in poverty-stricken areas where children have limited opportunities for education and future employment. Many trafficked children were marginalized in their country of origin or street children. As members of the Vineyard Ukraine Partnership, we at the Vineyard Community Church of Central Maryland have been working in Ukraine with orphans for six years now. Through all of our efforts and activity, we have come face-to-face with the wickedness of human trafficking. This past year we have become aware that some of these orphans have been trafficked to the United States, with Baltimore, Maryland as one of the top destinations for Ukrainian victims. Through our involvement in Ukraine, we know that at the age of 16, orphans in Ukraine are forced out of the state institutions and left to fend for themselves. All too often this means they end up on the streets as the target of human traffickers. We understand from a published report in 2005 from the U.S. Embassy in Kiev that traffickers are focusing increasingly on the vulnerable orphan population. Imagine our shock as we began to realize that one of the destinations of trafficking out of Ukraine is Baltimore, Maryland. Here we are, trying to assist in one corner of the globe, only to find the problem popping up in our own back yard. As we’ve begun investigating the issue of sex trafficking in Maryland, we were further disheartened to find that the Ukrainian orphans who are trafficked into Maryland are only one part of a much larger problem. These mostly helpless people are being forced to live under oppression in the underground sex industry and labour market…and it is happening where we live. Truth be told: when people are oppressed and held captive by traffickers on both an international and domestic level, we need to act to “loose the bands and let the oppressed go free”. OK, what do we do? At the Central Maryland Vineyard we have begun to meet as an advocacy and prayer group to learn more about human trafficking and to begin our first response: prayer. As we pray we are listening and looking for what the Father might have us do. We have developed an information and awareness program and can recommend resources for other churches who want to start similar advocacy and prayer groups. Please join us as we look to join with what the Father is doing to combat human trafficking and free the oppressed. Let’s follow the Father in His heart cry:
“…Is this not the fast I have chosen: to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke?”
Isaiah 58:6

4 Comments leave one →
  1. maryann permalink
    August 15, 2007 2:07 pm

    seems everywhere i am turning i am seeing this sort of thing being posted.

    its getting attention now….hopefully we can do some good to stop it and squelch the market for it.

  2. August 15, 2007 2:30 pm

    Well, I find it extraordinarily interesting.Good luck to all of you. And I’m sure you’ll do fine. Really. Just fine.

  3. August 18, 2007 10:34 pm

    This needs to stop! And slavery should have ended long ago.
    Thanks for this post and I will definitely say a prayer for this tragedy.
    Black children

  4. Sarah Ward permalink
    February 2, 2008 7:37 pm

    we are coming to your seminar, Steve Hamilton, in cincinnati. we are working toward a home for women and children who are rescued from trafficking. our hearts have been wrenched for these victims and we are believing the Lord for whatever it takes for the provision. we want to be a city of refuge.

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