Panel members appeal to Christians to ask how they might unintentionally be supporting, and could prevent human trafficking
By ACNS staff
A panel on the issue of human trafficking told a live and Internet audience today that everyone is complicit, and needs to do whatever he/she can to prevent it.
Speaking at a parallel event of the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, the Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori shared a shocking overview of the extent of human trafficking around the world.
Statistics included the fact that half of all trafficked people are children, and 80% are female. 15,000 people are trafficked into the United States every year with half ending up in the sex industry. This modern-day slavery is, she said, “an act of violence against human beings made in the image of God.”
Bp Jefferts Schori, lead the call—echoed by many of the speakers at the Chapel of Christ the Lord in New York—for the audience to combat trafficking globally and in their own communities.
“We can respond...by reducing the demands for the products of slave labour.” She explained that such products made in part or whole by labour slaves included coffee, smart phones and cotton clothing. The Primate pointed people to http://slaveryfootprint.org to learn more.
Lynnaia Main, The Episcopal Church’s Global Relations Officer agreed, “We are also all implicated in trafficking mainly because our demand for consumer goods. We focused a lot today on sex trafficking, but labour trafficking is something we’re all involved in.”
The Revd Brian McVey, who has been recognised by the Episcopal Church Foundation for his work against human trafficking, challenged men to “Stop buying! Stop paying for prostitutes. Stop buying pornography. 30-50% of women involved in pornography are forced to do so.”
He appealed to all Christians to pray, to raise awareness of the issue, and to “get their hands dirty” by tackling human trafficking in their communities.
Mr McVey was also one of those who stressed the Christian’s duty to address trafficking and minister to those affected by this ubiquitous crime. The Anglican Communion’s Network Co-ordinator and Women’s Desk Officer, the Revd Terrie Robinson agreed, “We [Christians] have a special place in this whole issue because we are the body of Christ in the world and we have responsibility to tell of trauma, but also of the good news of what transforming love can achieve.”
Mrs Robinson also shared about other Provinces of the Anglican Communion, most notably Southern Africa and North India, that had tackled trafficking head-on. She said the Anglican Communion has resolutions and statements calling on Member Churches to act on this issue.
Mrs Robinson added that, at its heart, the call to address human trafficking was the call to promote right relationships between men and women, boys and girls.
Other panellists were Sarah K. Dreier, Legislative Representative for International Policy, The Episcopal Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Laura A. Russell, Supervising attorney of the Family Law Unit of the Legal Aid Soceity in New York City.
The Episcopal Church has launched a dedicated webpage where it is collecting a range of resources on human trafficking from the Anglican Communion, the US Government, the UN, media and elsewhere. Visit it at www.episcopalchurch.org/page/human-trafficking