The most recent estimates hold that there are nearly 45.8 million slaves in the world todaymore than any time in history. Over half of these are in South Asia (India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan), and much of the work of Tiny Hands International is based here for this reason. Most trafficking victims are subjected to the worst conditions and several of the most horrific crimes including deception, kidnapping, rape, torture, and enslavement.
Traffickers target the young, uneducated, naïve, and innocent. Selling a story of hope to those most desperate for it, they use deception to gain control, and then maintain control through acts of violence. The scale of the problem, the gravity of the crimes involved, and the vulnerability of its victims combine to make human trafficking and the slavery it engenders perhaps the greatest injustice in the world today.
Although there are many types of slavery in this region, there is perhaps none so common, nor so insidious, as the trafficking of Nepali and Bangladeshi women and children into the Indian sex industry. Nearly all of the 30,000 women and children per year who are trafficked in this way are innocent and thus do everything in their power to refuse to consent to prostitution.
They are "broken in" through a process of torture, gang rape, starvation, forced drugging, and many other forms of violence. Victims are enslaved by a lie of "debt bondage"—in which they are expected to pay back the money paid to have them trafficked. They are not allowed to leave, contact anyone they love, or even go outside unaccompanied. They are forced to have sex with dozens of men. Day-after-day, thousands of women and children are subjected to this hellish life—and dozens more are trafficked into it.
This video is an interview with Meena, a girl who trafficked into brutal sexual slavery as a domestic servant in Lebanon. The trafficking of girls to Gulf Countries for household work is another form of trafficking that is common in South Asia. Tragically, Meena's story is typical. It paints the picture of the dark realities of the atrocities of human slavery and the sex trade. Yet it is a story of hope as she escaped from her captivity, and shares in the hope of Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we believe that God loves each person more deeply than any human mother loves her child. Thus if you really want to know how God views human trafficking, you have to picture it happening to someone you love.
PRE-TRAFFICKING & POST-TRAFFICKING INTERVENTION
As these facts have come to light over the last decade, many organizations have taken up the fight against human trafficking. Most of the work to fight trafficking can be broadly categorized into pre-trafficking and post-trafficking interventions. But each has its limitations.
Post-trafficking interventions respond to cases of trafficking after they have occurred. The most common such strategies are rescue and rehabilitation, in which trafficking victims are rescued out of slavery and placed in an aftercare facility, where they can receive provision, care, and counseling. This type of work makes a tangible, measurable impact in the lives of the precious victims who are rescued. But it can never undo the damage that was done. Moreover, its scope is limited by the high cost of providing the needed level of care. Perhaps most concerning is the difficulty in prosecuting traffickers and forcing the establishments which enslave victims to close. These things are relatively rare, and there is some concern that without these things, rescuing one victim may "pull another through the system."
On the other hand, pre-trafficking interventions aim to actively prevent trafficking before it occurs. Although it would be clearly much better to prevent trafficking before it happens, the most common pre-trafficking intervention—awareness, or educating people about the perils of trafficking--fails to have a tangible, measurable impact, and some studies have suggested it may have little or no effect at actually reducing trafficking.
Surprisingly, little is done to combat trafficking while it is actually occurring.
TRANSIT MONITORING - A MORE IMPACTFUL STRATEGY
Transit Monitoring attacks trafficking at the most strategic moment—while it is in the process of occurring, but before victims have been exploited or enslaved. It takes someone who would have otherwise been trafficked and prevents it. It is tangible, measurable, and has a very high impact on the dollar. As of this writing, it costs us around $100 to intercept one woman or child and prevent her from being trafficked.*
*Note: At the time of this writing, calculating the total amount we spent on border monitoring stations over the previous six months (July - Dec, 2014), the total amount we spent at our border stations divided by the total intercepts was $166. However, the total cost of operating our border stations contributes to other important outcomes as well. The percentages over this time were approximately as follows:
- 30% Interceptions
- 13% Legal and Witness Protection
- 6% Investigations
- 13% Data Collection
- 9% Awareness
- 12% Security
- 16% Aftercare
Depending on which of those outcomes are considered to directly contribute to intercepts, the cost per intercept varies from $50 up to $166. But we feel many of those outcomes are distinct from the actual interception of a victim, and thus we feel comfortable saying "it costs about $100 to intercept one woman or child and prevent her from being trafficked."