This past October the theme of the Community of Christ’s annual Peace Colloquy was “Stop Human Trafficking.”  

This past October the theme of the Community of Christ’s annual Peace Colloquy was “Stop Human Trafficking.”  

At first blush one might wonder if there is such a problem or, if there is, is it so widespread that it merits major attention? Wonder no longer, attendees discovered that human trafficking is truly a worldwide problem. Each year thousands of young women are lured, abducted or sold by their family into forced prostitution and involuntary marriages. 

The Colloquy folder proclaimed, “The nature of sexual violence and exploitation faced by these women is incompatible with the principles of dignity and worth of a human person and must be eliminated.” 

Dr. Halima Bashir, keynote speaker and a devout Muslim from the Darfur region in Sudan, experienced the tragic results when a Janjaweed Arab militia raped 42 young schoolgirls. When she spoke out against the event, she was raped to teach her to keep her mouth shut. She eventually escaped to England where she wrote her book, “Tears of the Desert,” which tells of the endemic discrimination against black Africans in Sudan. 

A few days later I attended the 39th United Nations Day dinner in Kansas City, Missouri and heard Radhika Coomaswarmy, U.N. Under-Secretary General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, speak on “Children’s Rights Must Prevail.”

We learned that several nations today still recruit or abduct young children, particularly in the ages from 8 to 14, and turn them into excellent soldiers because they are easy to train to shoot an inexpensive automatic rifle, have little or no fear of death and follow directions from an adult without argument. The fact that they are being deceived and harmed is of little consequence to those doing the exploiting. 

  Shockingly, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders each year – and that does not include the millions trafficked within their own countries. In the U.S. alone, 14,500 to17,500 people are trafficked each year of which 80 percent are women and girls of which 50 percent are under 18 years of age.  

But don’t let your eyes glaze over feeling these statistics don’t affect you. They do! Consider recent Examiner story, “Blue Springs man, woman admit to role in sex trafficking” (Sept. 26, 09), or the, as yet unresolved, headline cases the past three weeks about people living in our own community. 

What can you do?  Tell your Representatives and Senators to ratify the U.N. Declarations on the Rights of the Child and the Elimination of Violence Against Women. [The U.S. is the only developed nation that has not ratified these two.] 

Urge them to support Senate Cong. Res. 40 which calls for observing the National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness on January 11th of each year.

If you are a member of a faith community, tell your Pastor, Rabbi, Imam or leader to speak out for peace and against discrimination of any kind no matter where it occurs.