The Salvation Army firmly believes that the abuse and exploitation of human beings through any form of human trafficking is an offense against humankind and against God. This belief, combined with our mission to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination, motivates us to work vigilantly for the prevention of human trafficking and for the restoration of survivors. To that end, we hope that the information provided here will encourage and inspire you to join with us in working to see that all people are treated with dignity and given the opportunity to lead self-determined lives.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking (also referred to as trafficking in persons or TIP) is an umbrella term used to describe the process by which millions of people become enslaved each year. A widely accepted definition of TIP has been created by the United Nations (UN) . The UN definition is as follows:
(a) ‘Trafficking in persons’ shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;
(b) The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used;
(c) The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered ‘trafficking in persons’ even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article;
(d) ‘Child’ shall mean any person under eighteen years of age”
The UN definition of trafficking in persons can be divided into three parts: acts, the means used to commit those acts, and goals for which those acts are committed. At least one element from each of the three parts of the trafficking definition is required to create a TIP case.
Each year millions of human beings are subjected to the trafficking process and find themselves exploited in settings such as brick kilns, sweatshops, chicken farms, cocoa plantations, mines, fisheries, rock quarries, or for compulsory participation in public works or military service, as well as a variety of other settings. Countless others, predominately women and female children, but also boys, are trafficked into the commercial sex industry where they are used in forms of commercial sexual exploitation like prostitution, pornography, and nude dancing. Some are sold as “brides.”
Trafficking in persons is frequently referred to as modern-day slavery. Slavery is an apt analogy that shocks and challenges us. Americans in particular are moved by this comparison. To us, slavery is a sordid, indelible stain on our national heritage, but nevertheless it is an evil most believe we conquered and relegated to the history books. However, news media accounts, on-the-ground intelligence from nongovernmental organizations, and reports from agencies the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, create a different picture. They reveal the inescapable truth that trafficking is one of the principle means by which slavery survives.
The size and pervasiveness of the crime presents a formidable problem, but we fight on despite the odds. Accordingly, the Salvation Army has established this website to educate and equip people desiring to engage in this battle against the exploitation and dehumanization of human beings.
Why The Salvation Army fights Human Trafficking?
The Salvation Army is deeply committed to the modern-day fight against human trafficking (for sexual and labor purposes) and forms of commercial sexual exploitation innately linked to sexual trafficking. This commitment emerges from both The Salvation Army’s mission – to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination – and is rooted in the organization’s early history.
The Salvation Army was founded in London, England, in 1865 by the husband and wife team of Catherine and William Booth. The Booths went against Victorian conventions and took their ministry to the dirty and dangerous streets of London’s east side where they reached out to the destitute and desperate. Their efforts eventually evolved into a battle to protect women and children from the horrors of sex trafficking. Upon learning of the desperate needs of women and children at risk of or already caught up in organized commercial sexual exploitation, The Salvation Army responded by opening homes for women and girls and developing intensive “Rescue Work.” Within thirty years Salvation Army rescue homes grew from one to 117.
The Salvation Army’s efforts to help women and girls in prostitution did not stop there. In one of the most fascinating chapters of its history, The Salvation Army participated in the planning and execution of an undercover investigation into the trafficking of young girls for prostitution – a detailed account of which was published in July 1885 by the Pall Mall Gazette in a series of articles called, “The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon.” The series created enough fervor to foment public opinion in support of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, a measure which when passed in August 1885 raised the age of consent from 13 to 16 (although reformers sought 18). The Salvation Army’s advocacy efforts were a major catalyst in the bill’s passage.
Now, more than a century later, The Salvation Army in the United States and abroad is part of a reviving movement for the abolition of sex trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation. A revival of The Salvation Army’s previous anti-trafficking movement began developing in the late 1990s, and since that time has steadily grown. Today, The Salvation Army USA’s anti-trafficking efforts focus on four core areas: legislative and policy initiatives, awareness raising and training, prevention efforts, as well as the development and provision of trafficking survivor services. The other webpages here provide highlights of some of these efforts in the U.S., as well as an overview of several of The Salvation Army’s international anti-trafficking programs.
Recommended Links for Fighting Human Trafficking