India (MNN) — Like the plague or black mold, human trafficking is steadily spreading in India. According to both the UN and U.S. State Department, the trade is expanding from red-light districts to residential areas.
“Establishments of sex trafficking are moving from more traditional locations – such as brothels – to locations that are harder to find, and are also shifting from urban areas to rural areas, where there is less detection,” stated the 2013 Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report.
In its July 2013 report, UNODC states, “With modernization, the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children…has undergone a change. The [red light districts continue] to be prostitution dens but the business has expanded…and has become much more organized by providing services on demand.”
CH Dyer says Bright Hope International’s working on the local level to fight it. Churches they partner with are joining forces with local police.
“They have such good relationships with the police, and the police appreciate the services that these churches are doing,” says Dyer.
He says a working relationship like this has never existed between the Body of Christ and local officials, but its benefits could go beyond the realm of human trafficking.
When persecution arises, as it often does in India, “we now have relationships with those authorities who can help bring protections on Christians, help bring law enforcement in just ways.
“I see great benefits,” Dyer states.
It’s the fruit of a seed planted long ago. For the past several years, Dyer says Bright Hope has been trying to “wake people up” to the harsh reality of trafficking — but to no avail.
“Nobody understood it, nobody had even thought about it,” he says. “It wasn’t on any church’s, within our networks, radar.”
Though the occurrence of human trafficking and sexual exploitation has been steadily rising since 2008, so has the awareness and interest in fighting it. Dyer says things “started clicking” about three years ago, and within the past year-and-a-half they’ve built a couple of safe-houses.
“It’s still a growing understanding of how churches can be involved in this,” says Dyer, “and engage in Anti-Human Trafficking Programs, and bring the Gospel message along with it.”
While their first step is rescuing trafficking victims, Dyer says the following components are just as important.
“The rescues get a lot of attention. They’re exciting…it’s arrests and convictions,” he states. “But the restoration and rehabilitation is the long, hard work that has to be done if we’re really going to see these girls thrive.”
Bright Hope takes a holistic approach to the process. Click here to learn more about their Anti-Human Trafficking Program.
“There is a spiritual component, where we want them to receive Christ and understand grace and forgiveness, and the love of Christ,” says Dyer. “But then there’s also the practical side.”
With some foundational components in place, the focus is now shifting to community.
“Right now, we’re working with the local churches in these cities to accept some of these young girls into their church communities,” Dyer explains.
“Honestly, if we can get that stream flowing, we’ll be able to bring more girls out of the brothels because they’ll be in our safe-house for a year, and then into a church.”
Pray for eyes to be opened. Pray for the Body of Christ to welcome rescued girls into their midst.
“We think some could eventually go on to college and other kinds of trade schools, where they can earn a livable wage and care for themselves and their future families,” says Dyer.
“They need a community to do that, and that’s why we’re challenging these indigenous churches (to accept the young girls).”
Pray also for justice to increase concerning this issue. According to data from India’s National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB), conviction rates in cases of human trafficking are decreasing. In 2012, only 22% of the people trafficking young girls and selling them for sex were convicted.
Maharashtra, which arrested the most sex traffickers between 2010 and 2012, has a conviction rate of 7% — one of the country’s worst. Assam had the lowest rate at 1%.
Bright Hope needs your help to push back the plague of human trafficking in India.
“It can begin with a simple prayer, and that doesn’t cost anyone anything except a little bit of time,” says Dyer. “I would just invite people to pray right now for the 14 girls in one house and the 10 girls in another.”
Pray for their restoration and rehabilitation as these girls find new life in Christ.
“The cost of these safe-houses, and the rehabilitation and restoration aspects, is the costly side of it,” Dyer explains. “We need supporters who are willing to give; could be as little as $30 a month. Or, whatever God would lay on your heart to give.”
“There’s a few people who might say ‘I want to go’,” Dyer says. “‘I want to be engaged at a level where I’m making a significant difference and I want to give my time, my resources, and my talents to really help this program go forward’.”