Fighting Human Trafficking

Trafficking is a $150 billion business and involves some 36 million people. Fighting it is therefore obviously difficult and complex. A reader may have heard of Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), an endeavor began and in the main maintained by Mormons. The organization now has a film called The Abolitionists because it sees its mission not only with the zeal of faith but also with the same kind of commitment the abolitionists saw slavery—for to OUR trafficking is slavery. They are also filming what they hope will be a TV series documentingtheir efforts. The organization was begun and is run by former agents and military people, who use the governments and diplomatic contacts from their former lives to run sting operations by setting up sex parties so that they can rescue the women involved, many of whom are children. OUR has perfected its technique so that their stings meet their goals. While it’s all worthwhile, and a needed and part of the solution to fight trafficking, OUR still has its critics. Rescuing children and women is commendable, but not enough, what happens to them after they’re rescued? The resources are inadequate, non- existent, or too small to accommodate the women and young girls brought in. Some of the rescued have even ended up back where they came from. Increasingly, those who fight trafficking say it is now a multi-faceted endeavor requiring the assistance of several kinds of public agencies, social workers, psychologists, doctors. It also requires time, time for the victims to heal, to be retrained, to learn skills or self- esteem. OUR doesn’t focus on the aftermath, their forte is rescue. They are now planning smaller raids in hope of giving some victims a better chance to be helped.
Another effort to fight trafficking is Not For Sale which was began as a non-profit to help survivors rebuild their lives. Years into their work, the founders realized that trafficking was still flourishing, that regardless of their success they needed another approach, something beyond what had been tried. Trafficking, they thought, is mainly a crime above all about money. It’s a business, and they reasoned they needed very talented entrepreneurs to help fight it. So they began Just Business, an incubator to support social enterprises, enterprises that help address the problem where it originates—with at risk people. Just Business seeks out business opportunities for at risk communities. In this way some of those going into trafficking may be stopped, some potential victims also. In addition the business enterprises are also helping fund the non-profit work of Not For Sale which continues
Despite many efforts to combat it, trafficking as a huge business venture is not even wounded. Yet the determination of so many groups is not only heartening, it makes one feel that hoping for its demise may not be in vain.