Through Bright Hope, little girls like this one can escape the sex trade and have hope for a future. (Image courtesy of Bright Hope)
India (MNN) ― As we wrap up our series examining the plight of women in India, we turn our eyes to one of the biggest social justice issues oppressing women today: sex trafficking.
In 2005, the International Labor Organization estimated that 12.3 million people worldwide were caught in the bonds of human trafficking, which comprises both forced labor and sex trafficking. In June 2012, the ILO released another report: approximately 27 million people are now entangled in this demoralizing yet lucrative trade.
Behind drug trafficking, human trafficking is the world's second-largest criminal industry. While East and Central Asia still top the charts as having the most trafficking victims, the number of victims in Africa has risen over the past eight years.
According to the ILO, just over half of forced labor victims are women and girls. So are 98% of those trapped in sex trafficking.
"I see how much God exalted women in the Bible, how much women played a role in the ministry..., and it breaks my heart that such talent, such passion, and such beauty is being held captive," says Tracy Thomas of Bright Hope International.
"It lights a fire under me to just spread the word, to tell people that there is hope. There is hope after this devastation, and that hope is in Jesus Christ."
Bright Hope is rescuing girls from the sex trade in northern India. Their program began in June 2012 and combines the efforts of Bright Hope, local congregations, and a group called Freedom Firm.
"They've been helping us with the rescue, and the church body's been coming alongside to help with medical care, as well as the spiritual and mental needs," Thomas explains. She was amazed when local churches approached Bright Hope with an idea for the Anti-Human Trafficking Program.
"The church members and the leadership were saying, 'Help us figure out how to do this,'" she says. "There was plenty of rescuing to be done; the hard part was mobilizing the different parts and pulling it all together."
Last month, Bright Hope teams got to see how God is using their preparation, along with His timing and guidance, to make a difference in India. Three leaders of the anti-human trafficking program intervened in a situation involving two young trafficked girls and were able to get the minors into a government safe-house.
Prayers began for funding and governmental permission to build a safe-house of their own in the region. This way, Bright Hope teams could give the girls more attention and mentoring.
"We just received approval to open a safe-house in that town, which is a huge answer to prayer!" says Thomas. "So as soon as we're able to secure the safe-house and location, the government has promised that those young girls are going to be transferred to our care, in our safe-house."
Praise the Lord for this development. Pray that a location and facility could be secured quickly to provide a safe transition home for girls who leave trafficking.
Meanwhile, Thomas says funding and working by "the laws of the land," India's legal process, remains a challenge. Pray for wisdom and patience for Bright Hope workers as they keep fighting these battles. Come alongside their efforts by clicking here.
"That takes some time," admits Thomas, "but we want to do it the right way so that they stay out of trafficking."
Along with rescuing girls and women, Bright Hope raises awareness of the problem and helps rescued women find healing.
"We want them to come in and experience the love that Jesus would give to all people, and then hopefully come to know it for themselves," states Thomas.
Praythat trafficked women would begin to seek God's face, "That He would become real to them, even before His hands and feet have come to talk to them about Christ."