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Human Trafficking

Human trafficking, as defined by the U.S. Department of State, refers to sex trafficking as well as compelled labor. Human trafficking may include "involuntary servitude, slavery or practices similar to slavery, debt bondage, or forced labor."

Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing illegal trade in the world, depriving millions of their freedom and dignity. Within this vast trade of human lives, women and girls account for 70 to 80 percent of all humans trafficked worldwide.

According to the U.S. Department of State, between 12.3 and 27 million people are trafficked worldwide at any time. That's approximately the total population (27 million) of Texas and Louisiana. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes estimates the total value of human trafficking to be $32 billion. That's roughly the gross domestic product of Guatemala.

Therefore, the ELCA not only attends to ending human trafficking and caring for survivors, it also addresses root causes of trafficking, such as poverty, hunger, and sexism. You can participate in ending human trafficking and help raise awareness about it in your congregation and community!

Take action:

  • Report suspicious activity related to human trafficking at 1-888-373-7888. Hotline call specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to take reports from anywhere in the country related to potential trafficking victims, suspicious behaviors, and/or locations where trafficking is suspected to occur. All reports are confidential. Interpreters are available.

  • Study the ELCA's "Social Message on Commercial Sexual Exploitation" to learn more about how this church  addresses commercial sexual exploitation from a Lutheran faith perspective. Study questions and activities are also provided.

  • Read about the United States Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Learn about victim protection, prosecution of traffickers, prevention and anti-trafficking programs. You can also read their annual "Trafficking in Persons Report" (commonly called the "TIP Report") about the actions countries are taking to combat trafficking in persons.

  • Call or write to your congressional leaders, urging them to take a strong stand on anti-trafficking and protection for survivors. To find your elected officials, visit the ELCA Advocacy page.

  • Support ELCA World Hunger and their work to address the root causes of hunger, which include poverty, racism, and sexism.

  • Connect with Cherish All Children, a national Lutheran ministry of prayer, education, relationship-building, and action to prevent child sexual exploitation, a form of human trafficking. The heart of Cherish All Children is in congregations, where leaders work in teams to pray, speak, and act on behalf of children in the congregation and community.

  • Raise awareness in your community and work with other religious and secular partners to end human trafficking in your community. Learn more about human trafficking in our resources