Baptist World Alliance, BWA News Release

The Scourge of Human Trafficking

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Human trafficking is a growing crime that “involves an act or recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means for the purpose of exploiting them, ” as stated by UN Office on Drugs & Crime. Those who are trafficked are forced into the sex industry or other types of compulsory labor. These people are often women and children from marginalized situations.

Human trafficking expert and recipient of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) 2005 Congress Human Rights Award, Lauran Bethell, presented a paper on the subject at the 2011 meeting of the BWA Commission on Social and Environmental Justice. Bethell reported that human trafficking is the “exploitation of vulnerability” related to three factors: economic hardship, childhood sexual abuse and grooming. Grooming occurs when individuals are targeted and manipulated into prostitution after emotional or financial dependency is created, or both. In this same presentation, Bethell also emphasized that human trafficking only occurs because there is a market for it.

Due to the subversive nature of this crime, it is difficult to ascertain exactly how many individuals are victims of human trafficking. Many instances of human trafficking go undetected by authorities because it is kept secret or goes unprosecuted owing to law enforcement corruption. Citizens encountering the act may turn a blind eye because they do not recognize the seriousness of what is happening or even because they do not value the dignity of the persons involved.

Over the past several years, the plight of those who have been trafficked has been highlighted in the news and awareness of the widespread nature of this type of human rights violation has grown. At the 2007 BWA Annual Gathering in Accra, Ghana, the General Council called for “freedom for the 27 million still trapped in modern-day slavery across the world.”

The BWA, through its Division of Freedom and Justice, is committed to working to eradicate this crime and has developed and maintains a database, which in part will help grassroots organizations and individuals actively working to end human trafficking. This database will help connect and develop ongoing efforts within the global Baptist family and foster collaboration among those serving at-risk persons in their region of the world. The BWA has also strengthened its involvement in collaborative United Nations efforts to end trafficking.

This human rights issue is a crucial one for both the church and secular society as we join together in both recognizing the violation and exploitation of the most vulnerable members of the global community and calling for cessation of this crime. To report any grassroots Baptist efforts, or to have your group included in the aforementioned database, please contact the BWA Division of Freedom and Justice at [email protected].

The Baptist World Alliance, founded in 1905, is a fellowship of 253 conventions and unions in 130 countries and territories comprising 51 million baptized believers in 176,000 churches. For more than 100 years, the Baptist World Alliance has networked the Baptist family to impact the world for Christ with a commitment to strengthen worship, fellowship and unity; lead in mission and evangelism; respond to people in need through aid, relief, and community development; defend religious freedom, human rights, and justice; and advance theological reflection and leadership development.