If A) the fact that 2 million children are being exploited sexually in a 32 billion dollar industry really gets your goat and B) you are a consumer, then read this blog.
If there’s one injustice issue that is getting the world’s attention more than any other, it would have to be that of sexual slavery. But while most people are concerned or appalled at what they hear, the issue feels a world away and disconnected from our lives. I came across an article today that claimed that our lives are intimately connected with the issue of sexual slavery and putting an end to it. How? It comes back to the power we wield as consumers. This 2 paragraph excerpt puts the pieces together:
“The truth is, we hold the key to ending modern day slavery. Not everyone can become an investigator or lawyer and travel the world shutting down child brothels and emancipating bonded laborers. But our role – however not nearly as glamorous – is in reality, far more effective in the long run. Slavery is about economy. In order for a few to live lives of luxury and plenty, many must suffer under the oppression of poverty. Without poverty, modern day slavery would nearly disappear.
“Having money is not evil, and you are not a bad person because you are not in poverty. However, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). If we love money so much that being thrifty is more valuable than finding out how the products we purchase are made – that is a root of evil. If we love money so much that “being wise with our money” means always buying the cheapest item regardless of it’s history – that is a root of evil. (Katie Tilden, End Slavery: The Power is In Your Hands)
I’ve been concerned about the issue of human trafficking and sexual slavery for a long time. Two years ago I got my feet wet in the red-light districts of Thailand. Now I write a blog about justice and consumer issues. Somehow I never linked those two things together. But it makes sense. Most of the women I met in Thailand are in sexual bondage because of financial issues. Families in poor villages are tricked into sending their daughters to a “good job” in the city. Once there many girls are too ashamed to return home. Others continue in that life-style because they are expected to provide financially for their parents and extended family. What else is a poor uneducated girl supposed to do? Yes, poverty and sexual slavery are intimately connected. And consumer choices and poverty are equally linked.
I’ll let Katie take the floor for the closing remarks of this blog: “It is time for the body of Christ to take action in this battle against slavery. There are no excuses. The information is ready and available, we cannot hide behind the veil of ignorance any longer. It’s a sacrifice to decide to combat modern day slavery with our spending habits. Buying items that were made in an ethical way is almost always expensive, and in this economy, it is easy to feel that we simply cannot afford to do so – but that is not true. Maybe we will have to adjust our lifestyles, maybe we will simply have to buy less than we are used to, but that is a shift in the right direction..It is time for Christians to no longer be seen as stingy, but to be known by our generosity and commitment to justice even when that commitment stabs at our pocket books.”
Practical Resources listed by Katie:
Not For Sale, an NGO dedicated to the fight against slavery has developed a few very practical and convenient tools to aid in your fight against human trafficking.
The new Free2Work App for the Android and iPhone allows the consumer to scan the barcode of their favorite products on their phone. The product is given a grade ranging from ‘A’ (probably no forced or child labor used) to ‘F’ (forced or child labor was used in the making of this product).
You can learn more about specific incidents of slavery in your area and around the world as well as report incidents of slavery using Not For Sale’s Slavery Map, which allows for extensive documented information to be collected about slavery across the world. This is a powerful educational tool that can be used to bring awareness and change.
There are many organizations and movements working together to combat modern day slavery. Included are links to several organizations that are making great strides to set captives free.
Not For Sale – www.notforsalecampaign.org
International Justice Mission – www.ijm.org
Human Trafficking.org – www.humantrafficking.org
CNN Freedom Project – www.cnn.org/freedomproject
Night Light Bangkok – www.nightlightbangkok.com
Katie Tilden works with YWAM Thailand. Read her article in full here.