Obama’s Speech on Human Trafficking, IJM & Us

As mentioned in the previous  post, I was able to participate in a briefing by the Department of State with International Justice Mission staff earlier this year. (I know that sounds really cool – and honestly it was – grateful for the opportunities – thanks Q & Scott Calgaro)

One of the key things I heard was human trafficking is an issue that Democrats and Republicans support and therefore there is significant progress to be made on this issue.

They put together this huge book on the (we were all given one) where all the countries of the world are broken in three tiers and how they comply with Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The hours of presentation we received were very worthwhile and I left encouraged on a number of fronts. I was also very impressed with how close the IJM staff actually were with the DOS staff (I’m always suspicious of grandstanding but they actually did know each other very well on a professional and somewhat relational basis).

At the meeting they acknowledged that although the President has done some work on the issue, there would be making some major announcements on human trafficking in the fall. Initially, I was curious why it’s taking so long in his presidency to articulate something so obvious. After inquiring, I was told that the DOS is not only working on legislation but being that it’s such a global issue, it relies on a great deal of cooperation from other governments – one can see why progress in such matters take years to evolve.  That said, this announcement is years of incredible work being done by incredible people across the world.

You can read the entire speech in the links below but here are some of the highlights from this post on CNN’s Freedom Project:
“Last year we charged a record number of predators with human trafficking… We are going to do more to spot it and stop it.”

Obama said that would include working with train and bus employees and teachers to help identify potential trafficking victims.
He added: “Everyone has a responsibility. Every nation can take action.”

The Obama executive order says contractors and subcontractors working in the U.S. on federal projects cannot use misleading recruitment practices; charge employees recruitment fees; and destroy or confiscate an employee’s identity documents. All those techniques are often used by traffickers as a way of luring in victims vulnerable to trafficking.

Internationally, the order says contractors and subcontractors on jobs worth more than $500,000 must have a trafficking awareness program, and a safe way to report trafficking suspicions. The contractors must also guarantee both they and workers or companies they hire are not involved in trafficking-related activities.

President Obama also called out IJM an organization whose staff “like the great abolitionists before them, are truly doing the Lord’s work.” (All I know is that I have a few friends that work there and it was only after they were hired that the President acknowledges IJM in a speech – coincidence … doubtful ;)

In seriousness, I know we have to be careful with how throw around our terms but this would be another example of why I am ok with secularism. IJM is demonstrating that Christian non-profits can partner with government agencies to fight injustices around the world.

There is a lot of work that needs to be done like reducing the demand for prostitution, providing much-needed aftercare for victims, needed legislation, prosecuting violators, and protecting women, children and young boys just to identify some of the obvious ones.

When it comes to global issues, there’s a lot of discussion on how to get involved, what can actually be done, a lot of critique on what’s helpful, what’s not, etc. These problems exist in the long term because they are quite complicated but I do feel that it’s important to participate/contribute in some way. So here’s a bit of where I’ve landed.

Learn – Read up
Share – Create awareness
Give – organizations like IJM or find personal individuals who are serving already.
Connect – Build Relationships locally and globally
Be Faithful with the opportunities that come your way.

There is no easy prescription and no one can do it all, all the time but we can all do something so start with a little like learning a little more and perhaps a one-time donation that makes you think fi this is really worth it. Here are some links:
President Obama’s full speech from WhiteHouse.Gov.
The (Helpful but much Briefer) Fact Sheet from WhiteHouse.Gov and International Justice Mission’s post.

Found this interesting post from Harvard Students. You might find pages 236-237 (which is pg. 3-4 in the .pdf) helpful to understand more of the context of Obama’s inniatives.

Organizations like:
International Justice Mission
Polaris Project
All Girls Allowed
Invisible Children
Not For Sale

Have a though or an organization to recommend, feel free to share.