By Stan Friedman
CHICAGO, IL (June 5, 2012) – PROTECT, a new 40-page booklet published by the Department of Women Ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church, shares practical ways in which local churches and individuals can fight human trafficking.
The booklet is part of Women Ministries Break the Chains initiative. “We’ve helped people around the world and now we’re bringing it home,” says Meagan Gillan, executive minister.
The Covenant’s Human Trafficking Task Force developed the booklet. Although it is published by Women Ministries as part of its ongoing Break the Chains initiative, the resource is designed to be used by anyone in the church, says Gillan.
Covenanters of all ages have expressed far more interest in the issue than anyone thought would happen when the initiative started in 2008, Gillan says. They have donated more than $600,000, and some churches have held special awareness-raising events and have networked with other organizations in combatting trafficking.
Still, a resource was lacking that combined information with organized strategies for getting involved. “People were saying they wanted to do something, but they didn’t know how,” says Gillan.
PROTECT is divided into sections that list multiple action steps as well as resources: The Power of Prosecution: Enacting Laws to Prevent Trafficking, Responsible Consumerism, Orientation to Healthy Relationships, Training to Identify and Report Human Trafficking, Education to Protect the Most Vulnerable, Community Response, and Training to Support At-Risk Youth.
Practical options for individuals and churches include writing letters to legislators, becoming better informed about industries that frequently use trafficked labor, forming task forces, and sponsoring symposiums. In order to facilitate idea sharing, PROTECT also includes contact information for Covenanters whose churches have become more deeply involved in anti-trafficking work.
Gillan notes that sex and labor trafficking in the United States has happened in neighborhoods of all socio-economic levels. Many of the victims are children – the average age of girls being forced into prostitution is 13. According to law enforcement agencies, 45,000-50,000 individuals are trafficked into the United States each year, and 15,000 of them are children.
The U.S. Department of State “2011 Trafficking in Persons Report” states, “The United States is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor, debt bondage, document servitude, and sex trafficking. Trafficking occurs for commercial sexual exploitation in street prostitution, massage parlors, and brothels, and for labor in domestic service, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, hotel services, hospitality industries, construction, health and elder care, and strip club dancing.”
While supplies last, individual Covenanters can request one free copy and Covenant churches can request up to five free copies of the PROTECT booklets by emailing Women Ministries. Recipients are responsible for paying the postage. Copies may be purchased online for $6.50 at CovBooks.com. Free copies of the booklet in digital format are available by clicking here.