I attended a community-led meeting a few weeks ago to discuss local human trafficking and a suspicious business that people believe might be a human trafficking ring. I was there as a concerned citizen and thought maybe my knowledge on the issue might be helpful.
Not long into the meeting, someone said something that jarred me. They said “Let’s get this business out of here. We don’t want human trafficking in Wheaton.” What caught me off guard is that they added “in Wheaton” at the end of the sentence. Why not say, “We don’t want human trafficking. Period.”
I’m thankful for the many opportunities we have as an organization to educate people on what human trafficking is (and what it is not.) And whenever I have the opportunity to tell people that it happens everywhere and in every community, I take the moment to share because it does happen in plain sight.
But more than anything, I hope to inspire people that this issue isn’t just something to move around — not in Wheaton or anywhere else. That this issue is people. People, typically young girls and women, who are forced to sell their bodies and suffer from unthinkable abuse. So if we get it out of Wheaton, the trafficker will find another community to set up shop.
So what in the world do we do? My ideas are forming and my personal education on the matter is growing. But it’s important to know that it is not as easy as we may think. There’s no three-step quick fix. It requires being intentional, perhaps acknowledging some privilege in our own life that has blinded us, and removing the phrase “in Wheaton” from our sentences.
I am finding more and more opportunities to lead these discussions and bring awareness to communities, churches, and groups. If you’d like to dive into this with us, contact me and we can discuss a presentation or seminar that will empower people to end trafficking. Everywhere.