Human trafficking is an evil worth fighting

Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend the Iowa Preventing Abuse Conference held at Faith Christian Outreach Church, in Mt. Pleasant.

Like many that also attended, and those of you that read about conference, I was deeply moved by the outstanding speakers that shared their knowledge and personal experiences regarding human trafficking. I was also challenged to do my part in helping to eradicate this evil worldwide industry.

Since the conference, many local citizens who wanted to share their thoughts on the subject have approached me, and I was humbled even further. Many of you shared with me that you felt challenged to do your part in ending human trafficking, and I applaud you for being willing to step up to the plate.

On the flip side, I also walked away from the conference acutely aware of the heroes and heroines that are already taking the fight to end human trafficking to the streets. Many representatives from local church organizations, law enforcement agencies, mental health facilities and non-profit organizations like Mt. Pleasant?s Cradle of Hope were present at the conference, which I was so happy to see.

These individuals are on the front lines doing battle against this issue, and it?s time that more of us join them. All of us, no matter our age, social status, religion or occupation, can stand up against this monstrosity.

Believe what you will, but statistics and personal testimonies overwhelmingly confirm that human trafficking does in fact exist in Iowa ? even in towns like New London, Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Union or Winfield.

Within Iowa, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center says that the state has investigated more than 104 confirmed cases of human sex trafficking since 2007, and the numbers continue to grow as the sex industry grows richer and traffickers become more sophisticated in their tactics.

Today, the buying and selling of humans to be used as sex slaves generates over $9.5 billion yearly in the United States alone. The United States Department of Justice estimates that over 300,000 minors will be sold for sex in the United States this year. Add to that the estimate that over 30 million women and children will be sold this year for sex worldwide, and studies now show that sex slavery has become the second largest organized crime on the planet.

The time to deny that such a thing like sex slavery exists is over. The time for action is here.

Peggy Knudsen, wife of Mt. Pleasant pastor, Monte Knudsen, and president of Cradle of Hope, said during last week?s conference that, ?Yes, human trafficking is disturbing to think about, but we need to be disturbed.?

She is right. I am personally hard-pressed to imagine anything more disturbing and devastating than being caught in the grips of a trafficker. When I think about people close to me like my sister or my nephews, it makes me sick to imagine them being in such a predicament.

So I pose this challenge to you all: If you say you are going to help end human trafficking - prove it. Don?t just say you are going to do something, but rather follow through with action as you never know who?s son, daughter, niece, nephew or grandchild you might save in the process.

We all can do something. Whether it?s through donating your time, your money or your resources to local organizations that help victims of human trafficking; raising awareness; or by simply praying for and encouraging those involved in the fight against human trafficking - what you do makes a difference.