U.S. law enforcement and military advisors arrived in Nigeria on Friday, May 11. Their mission: Help to find and rescue more than 200 Nigerian girls who the Islamist terror group Boko Haram (meaning “Western Education is Forbidden”) had herded from their beds at a boarding school in April. The group’s leader, Abubaka Shekau, said in a video explanation, “I abducted your girls; there is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell – he commands me to sell.”
Extent of the Trafficking Problem
According to Robin Harris, an adviser to former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, most of the girls were Christians. Harris posited that the girls were targeted for sex trafficking, because they are Christians.
The sex trade is outlawed in 134 countries, but the International Labour Organization reports that 20.9 million people are sold annually for sexual servitude and forced labor. The United Nations estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked every year, at least half for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.
The statistics sound tragic. The stories of survivors are heartbreaking.
Food for the Hungry (FH) has worked with many such women—girls when they were sold and brutalized, mothers when they managed to escape or were released, because their captors no longer found them appealing.
That was the case for Jennifer, kidnapped by Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) at the age of 14. When she returned home, she and her daughter were shunned. FH offered help, and Jennifer grew from hopeless to expectant, from unemployable to skilled, and from lost to alive in Christ. You can hear her story, along with those of others who FH helped, in the video at the bottom of this post.
While many of the girls kidnapped in Nigeria might be beyond help right now, you can make a difference.
What You Can Do
- Learn – Do some research to understand the extent of the human trafficking problem, and how it impacts innocent victims as well as entire societies.
- Speak out – Ask your local media to cover the human trafficking problem; and contact local and national lawmakers to make stronger laws against human trafficking; ask local police for stronger enforcement of anti-trafficking laws.
- Disrupt demand – Write a letter to the editor of your local business publications asking for businesses to ensure that their supply of labor doesn’t include forced labor.
- Seek justice – Become an activist to bring attention to human trafficking and insist that abductors be brought to justice; avoid using brands that come from countries that knowing use forced labor, instead use fair trade products.
- Give financially – Help organizations like FH and others who help victims of human trafficking regain their lives, their self-worth and their livelihoods
See Jennifer Tell Her Story