18 May 2016
Human Trafficking has become a worldwide problem in recent years and has without doubt, come to be the world’s fastest growing global crime by which people are enslaved and one of the largest sources of income for organized crime.
Every year, the sanctity and growth of the human race is threatened by traffickers who buy and sell millions of women, men and children to enslave and exploit in numerous ways.
Also referred to as Modern Slavery, it is estimated that approximately 35.8 million people in the world today are made to engage non-consensually in activities such as commercial sex, forced labour, street crime, domestic servitude and even the sale of organs and human sacrifice.
Condemned as a human rights violation, human trafficking in its many forms affects people of all sexual orientations irrespective of age, race, ethnicity and religion; even though, there are a number of situations that can make a person more vulnerable to trafficking.
Poverty, family financial obligations, lack of access to education, unemployment, gender discrimination and political instability are but a few of the main contributing factors that may place men, women and children in vulnerable positions to be trafficked.
In a global marketplace where the profits are high and the risks are low, traffickers recruit, transport, transfer and harbour victims in their own countries or abroad through coercion, fraud or deception by making promises like the provision of quality education, a stress-free luxurious life, a new start and numerous future choices.
Current anti-trafficking efforts across the world are insufficient in dealing with the challenge of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. That is why religious leaders have a vital role to play in combating this menace by urging their followers to work to find ways to end Human Trafficking.
It is important for churches to articulate theology on human trafficking and modern slavery, have policies on anti-human trafficking to be shared with all members and create effective structures to offer professional legal advice for at-risk, victims and survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery.
Church leaders must be equipped with biblical teachings and interpretations, with awareness of how best to support survivors and with the necessary information for them to do appropriate referrals and counseling.
Churches need to include the issues of anti-Human Trafficking on their agenda in a significant way at local, national, regional and global levels as well as create and implement awareness raising programs through education and training on modern slavery and human trafficking.
It is also very essential for churches to create partnerships and collaborations that would lead to strategic networking among themselves and include other churches, faith groups and NGOs to join the campaign and share resources to strengthen individual efforts.
By educating themselves to understand the policy and legislative frameworks that seeks to combat trafficking, prosecute perpetrators, protect and reintegrate survivors in Malaysia and other countries in and out of the region, religious leaders would build their capacity to advocate for the government to allocate more resources to combat Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery and also develop expertise to identify gaps in policy and legislation which needs to be addressed.
In partnership with civil societies and NGOs and other religious institutions, churches can push for stiffer laws and penalties for perpetrators, proper reintegration of survivors and their involvement in the drafting of policies or issues of anti-human trafficking.
Church leaders need to promote the concept of the church as a sanctuary devoid of discrimination and judgement for survivors by resourcing and equipping their institutions to provide holistic and culturally appropriate support for those in danger and survivors.
Survivors need help to find healing. A key part of healing is enabling survivors to accept the love of God . The Church should be a house of healing and peace where there is no fear of judgement and discrimination. It is also called to be the voice of the voiceless.
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