January was Human Trafficking Awareness month. But as the month wound down, and the fight against human trafficking carries on, how aware are we and what does that awareness prompt us to do? For many the term human trafficking does not have a clear definition. For others, the definition may be clear, but how it applies may be uncertain. Still others either don’t understand why this issue is drawing such attention or are turned off by the topic because of its salience in certain circles. The purpose of this article is to guide us toward a shared understanding of what constitutes human trafficking, how it impacts society locally and globally, and how we as individuals can address this injustice.
We held hands as we sat on our couch in the suburbs of California. Our jaws were slack, tears raining down our cheeks by the conclusion of the news report, which explained the sale of little girls in Svay Pak, Cambodia to men who raped and tortured them. My wife turned off the television and looked at me. “Did you have any idea when we were walking the streets of Phnom Penh last week that this was going on?” she asked. “No,” I answered. “But now that we know the truth, we have to go back. We have to do something.” That was 8 years ago and my wife, Bridget, and I have lived in Cambodia ever since.