Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is not a modern phenomenon. In fact, it has been intertwined throughout human history. In biblical times, Joseph was sold by his brothers to be a slave in Egypt. Our own country was built by slaves. Today, almost every country is home to human trafficking. Many people don’t realize that their community is involved in modern day slavery, because human trafficking is often hidden and hard to identify. For this reason, it is important that we, as United Methodists and a nation of God, take the responsibility to educate ourselves on this issue so we can help our brothers and sisters stuck in the largest slave trade in our world’s history.

According to the United Nations, an estimated 27 million people around the world are trapped illegally in slavery. The UN also estimates that human trafficking nets a profit of $32 billion per year, making it one of the top three largest global crimes (the weapon trade and drug trade are the other two).
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs”.
A more simpler definition is the selling of a person for the purpose of exploitation.


There are four different forms of exploitation that a trafficker might enslave a victim for. They are: sex trafficking, forced labor, child soldiers, and organ trafficking.


In the United States, if a victim is under 18, proof of coercion, force, or fraud is not needed in order to prove that the victim was trafficked. However, if the victim is over 18, proof of coercion, force, or fraud would be necessary. One issue facing the United States is the misuse of the term ‘teen prostitution’. Many teens are misidentified as teen prostitutes when they are actually victims of trafficking. For this reason it is important to make sure our law enforcement has received training to best identify individuals in this situation.


Human Trafficking  is a global issue that is fueled by a strong demand, and can be found almost anywhere. Sex trafficking more often involves women and girls, however boys and men often are exploited as well. Victims of sex trafficking might find themselves being forced to act in porn films, be prostitutes, work for a pimp, work in an exotic strip club, or be a personal sex slave. Forced labor can be found in private homes in the form of domestic servants, as well as in restaurants, on farms, in massage parlors, etc. Child soldiers and organ trafficking victims are  found outside the United States in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burma, Syria, and Sudan, among others.


In Kentucky, sex trafficking is very much existent. The Kentucky Derby is a major event for the sex industry. It creates such a large demand for escorts and prostitutes that some pimps were begging for more women and girls to be brought in for the 2013 Derby. Pimps and traffickers often advertise women and girls on websites such as Craigslist and Backpage.


National Human Trafficking Hotline- 1.888.373.7888
*** If you would like to have someone come speak at your church, small group, Sunday school, or next event on the topic of human trafficking, please contact Missions Committee member, Laura MacFarland at or 859-433-9819.