40 million people around the world live under the grip of exploitation.
According to the United Nations, the most common form of human trafficking is sexual exploitation and 20% of victims are children. Although human trafficking seems to imply people moving across borders, most exploitation takes place close to home. This horrific injustice has exacerbated during a time of home isolation and job loss caused by the global pandemic, even in remote areas of the world.
With the increased risk of exploitation among vulnerable populations, now more than ever, MAI recognizes the importance of prevention by discussing child sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation with parents, community members and church leaders. When it comes to children, sexual abuse has been recognized as a common precursor to sexual exploitation because of increased vulnerability.
Preparing communities to prevent, identify and respond to sexual abuse and exploitation is crucial to saving lives. At MAI, we facilitate discussions on risky behaviors like sexting, grooming, use of pornography, and suspicious job offers. We partner with regional and global anti-trafficking networks, taking an active role in defending those that have no voice. We research and train on best practices and trauma informed care as ways to heal survivors and restore their dignity.
One of the tools we use is Healing the Wounds of Trauma, a program started by the American Bible Society and translated into multiple languages to equip Christians and help others. Our Community Health Evangelism (CHE) trainers are equipped to multiply healing groups in their own cultures. For more information, contact Zuzana Polackova email@example.com or Dr. Bibiana MacLeod firstname.lastname@example.org.
What would it take for a community to protect their own from slavery? We asked ourselves this poignant question and embarked on a journey of prayer, research and dialogue with experts to develop lessons aimed at facilitating discussion with community leaders. In many places where we work, changing cultural norms is challenging. For example, developing parenting skills requires confrontation with old cultural concepts that could go against the protection of women and girls. Challenging church and community leaders to report to authorities is easier said than done.
As advocates, we must build relationships of trust. We must understand the context and culture within each community. We start with small steps, asking God for discernment and wisdom as we seek to educate men, women, youth and children on identification, prevention and reporting. We include Biblical principals about how to treat each other and how to defend those that have no voice.
We have joined regional and global anti-trafficking networks in partnership with World Evangelical Alliance in Latin America. Many Christian organizations are coming together to learn from each other and raise a powerful voice against this worldwide injustice. We are working together to coordinate efforts to scale our work. We are gathering information on best practices and working to create safe environments in churches and communities to minister to survivors, while preventing new victimization.
Training of Trainers
In the CHE process, local facilitators are key to help leaders get organized and appoint volunteers that work to see their communities grow spiritually, physically, emotionally, and socially. We train people to train others to increase the rapid dissemination of information. We have developed lessons focusing on all aspects of human trafficking prevention and addressing the restoration of survivors in their journey to healing.