Hope in the Fight to End Human Trafficking

An interview with Shayne Moore on what we can do to fight human trafficking.

Posted Jan 14, 2020

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The most recent estimate determined by the Global Slavery Index (2016) is there are an estimated 24.9 million people in forced labor and 15.4 million in forced marriage. Human trafficking is a global epidemic, with a total of 45.8 million men, women, and children trapped in modern slavery all over the world, generating over $150 billion in profits.

END IT Movement, used with permission
Source: END IT Movement, used with permission

This month, organizations and individuals strive to raise awareness about this abuse of human rights and this obstacle to global social justice. Human trafficking and modern slavery are overwhelming global problems that many organizations, governments, and individuals are working to address.

Shayne Moore, M.A., is an author, speaker, and teacher. She is a Fellow at the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College Graduate School with a focus on Human Trafficking. Her book, Refuse To Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery (InterVarsity Press), received Justice Resource of the Year (Outreach, 2014).

In this interview, she lays out the reality of human trafficking as well as what we can do to combat modern slavery.   

JA: What is human trafficking?

SM: The terms human trafficking and modern slavery can be problematic as they do not fully capture the complexities and realities of the wide, global settings where it occurs. It is defined by the UN as "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability." Traffickers use violence, threats, blackmail, false promises, deception, manipulation, and debt bondage to trap vulnerable individuals in situations of commercial sex or labor for profit. Sex trafficking has been found in venues such as brothels, online escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs, and prostitution. Labor trafficking has been found in settings such as domestic work, small businesses, large farms, migrant communities, and factories. The data suggests that modern slavery encompasses many forms of servitude ranging from extreme situations such as sex trafficking and the recruitment of child soldiers to situations that fall within the ordinary realm of work such as domestic workers in affluent communities.

JA: Why does human trafficking exist in today’s world?

SM: Human trafficking is fueled by what is commonly called push/pull factors. Socio-economic factors, such as poverty, gender inequality, and lack of employment opportunities, are seen as "push" factors that support a profitable market for a trade in human labor. "Pull" factors typically include the promise of a more affluent lifestyle, the availability of employment opportunities, and the demand for cheap labor. Demand is often highlighted as a major "pull" factor for trafficking. We all are exposed to the consequences of modern-day slavery, such as our cultural demand for cheap products.

JA: How do we combat and work to end modern slavery, domestically and internationally?

SM: As of today, 166 countries have signed on to the Palermo Protocol, the United Nations anti-trafficking policy. The goal is to build a comprehensive international approach toward ending modern slavery. The Palermo Protocol uses the 5 Ps: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, Partnership, and Policy. These 5 Ps are useful not only for governments but also for domestic and local communities working to end modern slavery. The 5 Ps, if utilized effectively, place people and victims ahead of policies and process, and can create a victim-centered, trauma-informed model for those working to eradicate human trafficking and care for victims.

JA: Where do you find hope in the fight to end modern slavery?

SM: We have come a long way as a global community in working to end human trafficking. Today we see people from all spheres not only aware of and working to end modern slavery, but also working in effective collaboration. All people and organizations are critical to the new abolitionist movement. From governments to local faith actors to non-profits and local community groups—there is a tremendous energy, passion, and commitment to ending slavery in our lifetime.

JA: Where do you personally experience this energy, commitment, and collaboration?

SM: Often when working with a very difficult issue such as human trafficking, burnout is high. My experience is that resilience is developed by the community of people who are committed to ending modern slavery. Their energy and willingness to collaborate are what will end it. As the HDI Fellow focusing on Human Trafficking at Wheaton College, I am fortunate to work with many excellent organizations, such as the Global Center for Women and Justice and International Justice Mission. I am also encouraged by the commitment and energy toward this issue I witness among the graduate students with whom I work. Recently, I joined the World Evangelical Alliance Global Human Trafficking Task Force based in Toronto, Canada, where I look forward to future and effective collaboration.