January 11-13, 2013 has been set aside as a Weekend of Prayer to end human trafficking and slavery. This ecumenical event is meant to not only shed light on the issue but to also pray for victims, slave traders, “johns” and any affected by human trafficking.
According to the Weekend of Prayer website,
- Human Trafficking is the third largest criminal industry in the world with an estimated 32 billion dollars made annually.
- There are 14,500 and 17,500 people trafficked into the U.S. each year.
- Out of the victims of human trafficking 70% are female and 50% are children.
- Common places where pimps recruit women and children in the U.S. for sex trafficking are parks, playgrounds, homeless shelters,bus stations, junior high and high schools.
- The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports an estimated 100,000 children are at risk of being commercial sexually exploited annually.
- The average age of entry into the commercial sex industry is between 12 to 14 years old in the United States.
- The average cost of a slave is $90.00.
There are many state and regional organizations that offer aid to victims of this crime. However, one of the two national organizations that received federal funding, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, recently lost $15 million in federal funding because of the Church’s pro-life stance, and refusal to provide and administer abortions, artificial birth control and sterilizations. Those funds allowed agencies across the U.S. to offer educational programs, shelter, food, and other necessities to victims. The bishops continue their anti-trafficking efforts, but without any federal funding.
The Weekend of Prayer website states, “In our opinion, God calls his people to lead efforts to eradicate this modern day slavery just as religious leaders in the nineteenth century led the fight to end slavery in their age.”