I met Rainer Bantau a few years ago through the Writers Guild of Texas, and got to know him better as we worked on projects as members of the WGT Board of Directors. I love his sense of humor, his heart for service, his desire to bring out the best in others, and his dedication to the body of Christ–especially those who are fighting addiction and homelessness. I’ve long followed his blog, The Devotional Guy, and am honored to cross-post with Rainer this week. He is posting here about human-trafficking and homelessness, a heartbreaking topic we both advocate for, and I’m posting a devotional on his site. ~~km
The Human Pipeline: Homelessness and Human Trafficking
While you may not have initially made the connection, mentally you probably knew that homelessness and human trafficking had to be related, right?
Human trafficking is a global industry that enslaves millions of people in the forced labor or forced sex trade. Half of these individuals are estimated to be under the age of 18, many of whom are young children.
Human trafficking involves the trading of human beings for forced labor and/or sexual exploitation. It includes acts of transporting, transferring, harboring, or receiving a person using force or coercion. The United Nations (UN) considers human trafficking to be a crime against humanity. Annually, tens of thousands of men, women, and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their home countries and while travelling abroad. Every nation in the world is affected by trafficking, acting either as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims. Naturally, some countries are engaged in all aspects of global human trafficking.
Human trafficking exists in two primary realms: labor trafficking and sex trade. Let’s take a moment to define each of these two arms of human trafficking:
Sex trafficking involves the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced through force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person forced to perform such acts has not attained 18 years of age.
Labor trafficking includes the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, by force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, debt bonding or slavery.
Homelessness is a global endemic social problem. In the United States, there are nearly 650,000 people who do not have a place to call home on any given night of the year. Annually, in America, over 1.5 million live in emergency shelters or transitional housing. A third live on the streets or other places not considered fit for human habitation. Homelessness is more than a simple lack of housing. It involves a disconnection from family, friends, caretakers, and the routines of life, belonging, and community. When people become homeless the road to recovery is treacherous and tortuous, fraught with peril, and difficult to overcome. Recidivism is high after a person or family members become homeless and the options for a way out diminish over sustained periods of time.
So how are homelessness and human trafficking connected?
Great question! Thanks for asking!
In mid-April 2017, the PR Newswire ran a story announcing the research findings released by the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research, conducted at the campuses of the University of Pennsylvania and Loyola University (New Orleans). In completing what is to date the most comprehensive study of youth homelessness in the United States and Canada, researchers learned that nearly one-fifth of homeless youth have been trafficked for sex, labor or both.
Known as the Modern Slavery Research Project, the Fields Center study culled information from interviews done with 911 homeless youth across 13 cities, including 12 cities where homeless young people accessed services through Covenant House, between February 2014 and March 2017.
Covenant House operates the largest network of residences and community service centers for homeless youth across the Americas, reaching more than 46,000 youth annually in over 30 cities across six countries.
Field Center’s researchers found that 19.4% of the interviewed youth were victims of human trafficking, with 15% having been trafficked for sex, 7.4% trafficked for labor, and 3% trafficked for both.
The Field Center study found that sex traffickers preyed on the very basic needs of homeless youth—shelter, work, security—enslaving them for profit in a global, multi-billion-dollar industry. A lack of available resources in shelters and other social service centers were frequently cited as reasons for making escape from the bondages of their human traffickers difficult and hard to flee the pipeline of modern human slavery.
Homeless people are often the lost, lonely, last and least of our global society. They have fallen from the security of community and find themselves trapped with little means of getting out. Many of them, especially the young, fall prey to traffickers peddling them for personal gain.
While the answers to homelessness and human trafficking aren’t simple, finding solutions to resolve them is imperative and certainly affords us an opportunity to pray for a more positive outcome. After all, people are created in God’s image and enslaving them and robbing them of their dignity-desecrates the very image in whom we were all created. Over 150 years have passed since President Abraham Lincoln first declared the Emancipation Proclamation. Today, human slavery and homelessness remain a crimson stain on the global landscape.
Prayer: Father God, I pray that you would help us find the will and courage necessary to end human trafficking worldwide and that you would give us the strength and compassion to help the homeless overcome their situations and circumstances and return them to life in Christ and community. Father, please protect the children who find themselves in harm’s way and keep them from falling prey to those who seek to exploit and enslave them for their own personal gain. Amen.
Photos courtesy of Pixabay
Bassuk, E. L., Olivet, E., & Olivet, E. (2012). Homelessness. In A. T. Carswell (Ed.), The encyclopedia of housing (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Chamberlain, J. M. (2013). Human trafficking. In L. M. Salinger (Ed.), Encyclopedia of white collar and corporate crime (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications
PR, N. (2017, April 17). Largest-Ever Research Studies Find One-Fifth of Surveyed Homeless Youth in the United States and Canada Are Victims of Human Trafficking. PR Newswire US.
Rainer Bantau, writer and blogger, is a Swiss-born German kid from East Texas, living the La Vida Loco in Big D with wife, Terri, and their furry, four-legged menagerie. Working in the global mobility industry, he is a businessman, ordained minister, and Netflix addict. He spent many years in the restaurant and radio industry. Rainer currently serves on the Board of the Writers Guild of Texas. Rainer is a lifelong aspiring author who began writing digitally in 2008 and has published articles for LinkedIn, My Trending Stories, and regularly creates fresh content for his blog The Devotional Guy. He and his wife are active in their home church, coordinating the church’s annual Operation Christmas Child ministry. In addition to OCC, Rainer plays keyboards on the worship team and serves as the team leader for the church’s outreach to the homeless, primarily through providing monthly chapel services at Union Gospel Mission.