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FBOs and Human Trafficking

FBOs and Human Trafficking


(FASTEN Staff, 2005)

As a social service provider in a faith-based organization, you face human need everywhere you turn. You may wonder if turning your attention to human trafficking is something you can reasonably take on. These brief vignettes on how some FBOs are combating the growing human trafficking problem may well help you prioritize how you can most effectively address this concern, even with limited time and resources.

Vital Voices, a Global Partnership for Women, offers insights on where faith-based organizations would most likely encounter human trafficking. You may well face women who have been sexually exploited in settings such as massage parlors, escort services, strip clubs and brothels. 

Victims of labor exploitation will often come out of sweatshop factories, farm work, low-end domestic jobs, such as working as nannies and maids, construction sites, as well as janitorial and restaurant work.

If you want to serve these individuals, your faith-based organization should not only document where a victim comes from but proactively enter these different ill-defined work settings to find victims of trafficking. Staying alert to signs of human trafficking, according to Vital Voices, means looking for the following in a woman, man or child:

·         evidence of being controlled

·         lack of identification, such as a passport or visa

·         bruises, or other signs of abuse

·         extreme fear, especially of authorities

·         language barriers

·         inability to move or to leave a job

Read more of Vital Voices Global Partnership for Women at

 Salvation Army Giving Safe Haven

Since its founding in 1865, the Salvation Army has provided safe haven to some of this world's most vulnerable—including women and children. Naturally, the heinous act of human trafficking would rally the sensitivities of this faith-based organization. And indeed it has.

On a national scale, the Salvation Army has established an extremely practical website called the  Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking, From its experience helping women and children, the Salvation Army recommends taking the following actions:

·         Write to congress members. Confirm U.S. attorneys who will make prosecuting traffickers a top priority.

·         Organize briefings, conferences, lectures, Partner with local churches, women's organizations and schools.

·         Write letters and articles for local papers, church bulletins, denominational magazines. Inform readers of this modern day slavery.

 Christianity Today Magazine Speaks Out

In Christianity Today magazine, the largest evangelical magazine in America, a writer encourages churches to take seriously their responsibility to "love your neighbor as yourself." Churches have a unique role in local communities nationwide, the writer contends. And they have often earned the trust of their neighbors and usually have the resources to help the most underserved.

Christianity Today endorses the following actions by churches in addressing the human trafficking issue: 

·         Organize a group of people who can provide practical help for victims.

·         Support Christian organizations that fight sex trafficking.

·         Report suspected abuse to the Trafficking in Persons and Work Exploitation Task Force at the U.S. Department of Justice (888.428.7581).

·         Refer suspected victims to counselors recommended by the Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking (703-5199-5896).

·         Write a congregational letter to your congregational representatives asking them to make a priority of combating sex trafficking.

 Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), is a faith-based organization created by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Formed in 2002, LIRS focuses on helping children, specifically, who are trafficked into the United States.

LIRS serves trafficked children directly through partnering with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Together they work with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to place eligible child trafficking victims in culturally appropriate foster care, small group care, or independent living, which provide the children with a range of specialized and comprehensive services.

Read more about the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service here.

On the Ground in Baltimore

Sister Loretta Rosendale, S.S.N.D., is executive director of Marian House, a residential program for homeless women sponsored by the School of Sisters of Notre Dame and the sisters of Mercy.

She urges her faith community members to designate someone within each parish to study the issue of human trafficking and raise awareness. Even the wealthiest parish, she observes, can be affected by people who are exploited for their labor in people's homes.

"Like the Underground Railroad, Rosendale says "we need to establish a network of safe homes. It costs nothing. We could use the colleges, rectories and convents."

These portraits are just a brief introduction to how some faith-based organizations are fighting the human trafficking problem. May they be an inspiration to your organization to take action in combating this heinous crime.

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