International (MNN) — The 2009 Trafficking in Persons report was released last week. World Hope International was in attendance at the release by the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
World Hope's Megan Nykyforchyn-Clark says, "The reason that the U.S. government is interested in reporting on this and giving updates is that in the world, there are over 12.3 million adults and children at any time who are in forced labor or sexual servitude. And not only does this affect many countries around the world, but it exists in our own country." The 2010 report will include of statistics from the U.S. as well as 175 other countries.
The redemptive aspect of this year's report is the inclusion of heroes in the fight to stop human trafficking. "Often this topic feels very heavy and negative. And it is. But there are many people who are working to make a difference, and so highlighting some of the heroes around the world just really helped communicate some of the positive work that's being done in this field; it made a heavy report a bit easier to read," said Nykyforchyn-Clark.
Along with this, each year the report has a theme. This year's theme is
coercion in a time of economic crisis.
The most high profile form of trafficking is for sexual slavery. However, Nykyforchyn-Clark says there are many other types. They include forcing people to participate in
camel races, forced farm work, and trafficking for body parts. World Hope is specifically involved in combating the latter.
There are many things that are similar to trafficking. The definition of trafficking, according to Nykyforchyn-Clark, is "the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of exploitation." It must include "recruitment, harboring, and
transportation for obtaining a person" to be truly considered trafficking.
World Hope's work is two-fold: prevention and awareness. They educate people about the warning signs in places where trafficking is common.
Nykyforchyn-Clark explained, "In those areas, often a trafficker will come to the village and offer to send a community member's child to school–a child who otherwise wouldn't have the resources to attend. So, the community member will consent, thinking that this opportunity will help better the life of his or her child, not knowing the dangers of trafficking out there."
World Hope also helps run one emergency safe home in Southeast Asia for women who've just been rescued from brothels.
Their Christian faith is at the core of World Hope's involvement, says Nykyforchyn-Clark. "Even our call to work on the issue of trafficking comes from the Bible–to speak up for those who do not have a voice–and that's the motivation behind what we do."
World Hope usually connects with churches where they work to inform the Christian community how they can be involved. "When we see girls who have gone through such trauma laughing and staying out of prostitution even years after being in our program, we are just really pleased with that work."
Pray for survivors of trafficking. Pray that World Hope's work will lead them to a healing relationship with Christ.