I am not someone who usually speaks up on issues. Often it is due to a lack of knowledge. Sometimes it is because I am not a fan of conflict or criticism and both of those usually come when a person states a position on something. However, I cannot ignore what the Bible says about pursuing justice and caring for the oppressed.
Give justice to the weak and fatherless, maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. ~Psalm 82:3-4
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. ~Proverbs 31:8-9
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. ~Isaiah 1:17
The Lord has shown you what is good. He has told you what he requires of you. You must act with justice. You must love to show mercy. And you must be humble as you live in the sight of your God. ~Micah 6:8
Living in metro Atlanta, there has been one social justice issue that I have had more frequent contact with and have become increasingly more concerned about, especially as a woman and a mother. That issue is human trafficking.
We would like to believe that it is not happening here in the United States but a study from 2014 found that it was an almost $1 billion industry in our country, with $290 million of that being made in the metro Atlanta area (Urban Institute). Many of the girls are minors when they are trafficked, the average age being 15 (Shared Hope International). They are lured through social media connections or the promise of a job and are often trafficked over the internet through websites. Buyers average 40 years of age, live in the suburbs, and work regular jobs such as business professionals, law enforcement, teachers, and judges (11alive investigation of court records).
This should not be. Girls and women should be safe wherever they are. There should not be horrifying but true statistics like 25% of women are abused before the age of 18 and 1 in 5 women around the world are victims of rape or attempted rape.
There are many agencies that are fighting to reduce all of these statistics and working to rescue people caught in human trafficking around the world. There are some agencies that help with rehabilitation and recovery after being rescued. But the need is greater than the supply. Nationally there are fewer than 600 beds dedicated to long-term recovery for those rescued from sex trafficking, and those are only found in 23 states. Georgia is one of those states. Wellspring Living is an organization in Georgia that provides beds and are able to serve about 62 girls and women in their residential programs (2017 Annual Report).
With all of these staggering numbers, it may seem like an individual can make no significant impact. However, there are a number of organizations that individuals can partner with to spread awareness and contribute to the fight to end trafficking.
I heard about an annual event to help raise awareness and money to combat human trafficking a couple of years ago. It’s called Dressember. Advocates fundraise money that will go to organizations that are actively engaged in rescuing people from trafficking. Advocates also commit to wearing a dress (or a tie for men) every day in December “to reclaim and re-appropriate the dress as a symbol of freedom and power.”
This year I am going to be participating in Dressember. It will be a definite change from my normal jeans and sweater attire, but perhaps the obvious deviation from my standard uniform will spark conversations with others. If you would like to support me and the cause, you can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking here. You can also join my Dressember team and participate yourself!
Are there any causes for which you have a passion? What organizations are you part of that are doing good in your community?