Would you believe me if I told you that there are more people in slavery today than ever before in our history?
You might respond that it’s impossible; slavery has been outlawed hundreds of years ago. Unfortunately, modern day slavery is alive and well. I’m talking about those who are slaves in the Human Trafficking and Sex Trade all over the world including northern Ohio. January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and I’d like to share what I’ve learned and experienced while serving some of the most vulnerable that come through the doors of Laura’s Home.
I used to think that women who came through our doors were coming to find strength and courage. What I realized was that these women had an enormous amount of strength and courage already. What they were looking for was help and hope. Hope for transformation, help for a new beginning.
The most vulnerable victims of human trafficking are homeless women and children. The Trafficking in Persons Report of 2007 states that 80% of victims are women and 50% are children. Women and young girls, especially, are often faced with making an impossible decision: be homeless with dignity or be sheltered with shame. I’ve heard stories from women who felt they had no choice but to sacrifice their dignity and their child’s innocence so that they could have a place to live.
The United States is currently the world’s second largest destination country for women and children trafficked into the sex industry. Ohio is ranked fifth overall in the United States for human trafficking. Many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in prostitution or the sex entertainment industry. Some have escaped those horrific conditions but there are still too many who remain. Young victims are especially vulnerable to those in the trafficking trade because they often use lies and manipulation to gain the trust of the youth. Sadly, the average age of entry into human trafficking and prostitution in the United States is just 13 years old.
What’s your reaction to learning these startling facts? If you’re like me you’re wondering, “What can I do to help?” “Can I really make a difference?” Thankfully, at Laura’s Home there’s are ways you can make a difference. Laura’s Home offers shelter to women and children in crisis. Over the last year we have been operating at full capacity. That means we have consistently had over 140 women and children seeking safety and searching for hope at Laura’s Home. Praise God that these families have found not just a safe place to live but an opportunity for hope and a new beginning! We’ve also added an after school program, Pathways, for the youth. We see Pathways as a crucial ministry for the children and especially in light of the growing Human Trafficking horrors.
How can you help? When you volunteer at Laura’s Home or support The City Mission with prayer or a donation you are directly helping those that are vulnerable to Human Trafficking. We are continually evaluating our programs to make sure we are meeting the critical needs of those who are seeking help and hope. I want to thank you for generously giving of your time and resources and I want to assure you that those gifts are being used to help those who are most vulnerable.
Please join me in praying for those who are trapped in this modern-day slavery. I will be continuing to post facts on Twitter human trafficking during the month of January. Please stay tuned!
Laura’s Home Women’s Crisis Center