Today has been declared National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the U.S., and the whole month has been declared Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This is an issue that many people are aware of in the U.S., and great strides are being taken to identify and protect victims.
Here in El Salvador, human trafficking or “la trata” as it is called, is an issue too. Here is a quick overview of the situation in El Salvador:
-women and children are far more likely to be trafficked than men
-poverty is the number one risk factor for girls and women that become victims
-the majority of victims are sexually exploited, but there are some who are forced into agricultural or domestic servitude
-El Salvador is a source, destination, and transit country
-within El Salvador, victims are trafficked from rural areas into urban areas to work in forced prostitution
-victims are trafficked from neighboring countries into El Salvador as well
-Salvadoran victims trafficked out of the country are usually taken to other Central American countries, Mexico, the United States, or Europe
-in an effort to immigrate to the United States, victims may fall for false claims of job offers in the U.S. and find themselves forced into prostitution or agricultural and/or domestic servitude instead
-family members are often the ones trafficking their daughters, nieces, cousins, and sisters
-recent news reports from El Salvador have reported on underage trafficking rings, and “virginity sales” of girls as young as 12 with many traffickers operating in local shopping malls
-the government in El Salvador is working to identify and prosecute traffickers, and to protect victims but there is still work to be done
It is easy to become overwhelmed by statistics like these. But there is hope, as we focus on serving one person at a time.
I have been privileged to work with victims in El Salvador and I continue to be impressed by their bravery and their will to press on despite the horrors they have experienced in their young lives.
Today I ask you to pray for victims in El Salvador, for the government, and for the social workers and missionaries who are working to minister to these women and children who have had their lives devastated by this horrific crime.
The problem is sickening and large, but we serve a God who is stronger and bigger. We serve a God who can heal and restore what was lost. Our pray is that victims in El Salvador will have a life-changing encounter with our God, and that He would equip us to help them move forward with their lives. Please pray with us.
To learn more about what we are doing to minister to victims in El Salvador, click here.