Understand the Issue

There are at least 40.3 million victims of slavery around the globe.
Slavery generates an estimated $150 billion each year.
Sex trafficking is when someone uses force, lies, or intimidation to cause another person to perform a commercial sex act.
The majority of sexual slaves are women and girls.
Victims of sexual slavery may be falsely promised jobs, forced into sexual slavery by a family member or someone they are romantically involved with, or kidnapped.
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Lina's Story

BY JEREMY VALLERAND, CEO & PRESIDENT

Lina picture as young girl
Seven years ago, I met a smart young high school student with a shy smile and bright eyes.
Her name was *Lina. She and her little sister were living in a small safe home in Central India run by one of our Local Partners. The first time I visited this safe home that housed 45 teenage girls, I was overcome by the hope and love that I felt. I remember thinking, “these girls are going to change the world.” And I knew that Rescue:Freedom had to be part of their story.Lina and her sister grew up in a brothel with an all but certain destiny. Just like their mother, their aunt, and the generations before them, prostitution was the unavoidable path. No one really had a choice because there seemed to be no other options. In their world, the daughters are the retirement plan—the only hope of survival for the mothers when they become too old or too sick to sell their bodies. The daughters enter prostitution so their mothers can exit.

That’s what makes Lina’s mother so extraordinary. She risked her future and her livelihood to help her two daughters escape the brothel and enter the care of our Local Partner. She was determined to give her daughters a different life.

 

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of attending Lina’s wedding.
I even got to participate in the ceremony. It was an incredible celebration. I’ll be honest, I got pretty emotional standing there watching an empowered young woman, who now has a college degree, marry the man she loves while being surrounded by a community of people who believe in her.Lina is writing a new story that will change every future generation of her family. Instead of inheriting prostitution, her children will inherent a loving family, an empowered mother, an opportunity for an education, and a world of possibility.

And there’s more. At the end of the wedding ceremony, Lina’s aunt (her mother’s sister) who was also in prostitution, and owns a brothel, approached our Local Partner. This aunt had been one of the critics who reprimanded Lina’s mother for letting her children leave the brothel, and giving up the income they would generate for her. But at that wedding, she saw the incredible future awaiting Lina, and the vibrant community surrounding the newly married couple. And for the first time ever, she asked if there was a way out for her daughter as well.

Yes there is. There is always a way out.

*Name changed for the protection of the survivor.
Lina wedding picture

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Q
How do people become enslaved?
A
Traffickers capitalize on the vulnerabilities of their victims to lure them into slavery. Whatever it is that their victims need most, is what they will falsely promise. This can look like a well paying job, a loving relationship, or safety and security. Victims can also be sold into slavery by parents who don’t feel they can provide for their children, or need money to help the entire family survive and don’t see another way. Children whose parents are sexually enslaved are likely to become enslaved unless they acquire skills or education that provide them with other means of earning income.
Q
Who is targeted and why?
A
Traffickers are always looking for the path of least resistance in finding their next victim, and target people who are considered vulnerable within a community. This can look really different: gender inequality, racism, classism, citizenship, or legal status can make someone vulnerable in their community. People who have been displaced by conflict or natural disasters are also vulnerable. Here in the U.S., it's often children and teens who have run away from home or have grown up in the foster care system. When young people don't have safe adults in their life to care for them, or a community to belong to, traffickers will exploit this. When someone has experienced trauma or abuse, traffickers know they can use this to manipulate someone.
Q
What keeps someone enslaved?
A
Once traffickers have obtained someone, they will do everything in their power to continue to control them. Physical and emotional abuse, sexual assault, and taking away any forms of ID and money are common. Victims may not speak the local language or even know where they are due to being moved frequently. Victims or their families may be threatened with physical harm if they try to leave. Traffickers know their victims' vulnerabilities and will utilize these to create dependency.
Q
Why does sexual slavery exist? Where does it happen?
A
Sexual slavery exists because there are people who are willing to buy sex, and there are traffickers who are willing to exploit people to profit. Simply put, there are people who create demand, and people who will find a way to supply it. Human trafficking and sexual slavery exists everywhere. Every community, class, race, and people group is affected by it.

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