Many years ago the Passion Conference and Christine Caine made thousands aware of the fact that there are more human slaves currently in the world than at any other time in history. CNN picked up the story, and the A21 campaign became common lingo in my circles. I was aware of human trafficking before the Passion Conferences, but hearing Christine Caine speak about statistics and personal stories became seared into my heart and a fire began to burn.
A year or so after learning about A21 I was requested by the health department I worked for to attend a local awareness meeting about sex trafficking in our area. Close to St. Louis, our local law enforcement, and state’s attorneys had received training and wanted to make us aware of signs to look for regarding traffickers. As conversations continued, it was pointed out that one of the most profitable times for pimps surround large athletic events.
“The links between human trafficking and major sporting events are complex. Human trafficking is largely a hidden crime, making accurate numbers of trafficking incidents difficult to determine. However, many studies have shown that there is an increase in the demand for commercial sex services surrounding large sporting events such as the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA and NHL playoffs, professional golf tournaments, and horse races, as well as college sports and NCAA playoff events.” READ MORE HERE
As a football coach’s wife, I cannot ignore the statement above. I often travel with our team and enter and leave the stadium with them. Even at the college level, there are women who hang out in the lobby of our hotel or stop at a table to ask where the team is staying when we are at dinner. This is not to say these women are trafficked, but the reality is I don’t know, and watching this occur reminds me this is an issue closer to me than I realized. The truth is, it is something I feel I should have never ignored in the first place.
I feel a responsibility to fight for those women who cannot fight for themselves. Perhaps it is time I spend with college women, or the A21 stories I’ve heard, or simply the fact that God has nudged my heart to accept that I am closer to this issue than some.
I’m limited in what I can do outside of prayer. “If I see a victim, what is a safe way to offer help? Do not involve yourself personally as you may compromise the safety of the person you are trying to help. The safest way to help is to report your concerns to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888 or your local police station. NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. All calls and on-line reports are confidential. If it appears that a victim is in immediate danger, call 911.”
There are many resources on how to help victims of human trafficking. They all agree that calling the 27/7 hotline or 911 is the best way to help. The truth is that trying to help a victim of human trafficking can be very dangerous. At the same time, local organizations can use more than our financial support. Spreading awareness by speaking with the teams and those who travel about exactly what is going on with human trafficking. Another thing those of us with access can do is to make information available. A phone number is hard to remember, but a pamphlet or business card with a number on it may be able to be hidden. There are organizations that walk the streets at major sporting events looking out for possible trafficking victims. They may not be able to get access beyond an arena, but we can!
Fellow Coach’s Wife Erika says: ” If any of you see or hear anything that leads you to suspect someone might be trafficked (labor or sex), PLEASE call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888. You can also text BEFREE (23-3733). Law enforcement does not have to be involved unless you want and all calls can be completely anonymous. Polaris operates the hotline and has information and resources in every state available online at polarisproject.com.“
If you have a desire for further information, contact your local police to find out how you can help in your areas or browse the links below. Human trafficking is a worldwide issue. Ladies, regardless of what your husband does, your voice in this tragedy is important.
Some of us are closer proximity wise to the battlefield. Ladies, let’s fight for our sisters, our daughters and those who cannot fight for themselves.
**image source: freeimages.com