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December 30 – Human Trafficking Awareness Day (Jan. 11, 2013)


“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together
in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, …”
--Colossians 3:14-15a, NRSV

 When Maria, an Armenian citizen, ended up in Dubai, she resisted attempts by her traffickers to force her into prostitution.

In retaliation, they threw her off the top of a three-story building.

Maria survived the fall, escaped her captors and was repatriated to Armenia, where police referred her to the Anti-Human Trafficking Project run by the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

The project helps women move on to new lives after becoming entangled in what is considered the second-largest and fastest-growing global criminal enterprise, said Kathryn Paik, UMCOR’s Armenia program officer.

The United Nations defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of people — by threat, abduction, deception or abuse of power — for the purpose of sexual or labor-related exploitation. Eighty percent of those trafficked are women and girls, and half of all trafficking victims are younger than 13.

UMCOR was the first nongovernmental organization to work with Armenian authorities in all regions of Armenia to reintegrate trafficking survivors back into society, Paik said.

At UMCOR’s shelter, survivors receive medical services, legal counseling, vocational training and psychosocial support. The length of stay varies by individual case. “Shelter staff also have ongoing contact with the victims and their families,” Paik said.

Back in Armenia, Maria remains one of the success stories. “We heard she is now remarried and, as of last year, had a baby,” Paik reported.

--Adapted from a UMNS story by Linda Bloom, March 31, 2011


Compassionate God, it is hard to imagine slavery in 2013; yet, we know it is very real. Enable us to reach out in love and mercy and to seek ways to free those in captivity. In your holy name, we pray. Amen.


“Human trafficking is a crime,” said Susie Johnson of United Methodist Women. In response, United Methodist Women are taking a stand “to prevent, protect and prosecute those impacted by this trade in human beings that occurs everywhere in the world.”

Through education, partnership and action, United Methodist Women work with faith representatives, elected officials and community groups to build awareness and ignite hope for those who are trafficked.

Human trafficking is the second-largest criminal industry in the world. Traffickers take advantage of vulnerable persons with false promises or physical abduction, forcing them into contract slavery, forced labor and sexual trafficking.

According to the U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2010, 12.3 million adults and children are currently in forced labor, bonded labor and forced prostitution. Worldwide, 1.8 per 1,000 persons is a victim of human trafficking, increasing to three persons per 1,000 in Asia and the Pacific.

On Human Trafficking Awareness Day, United Methodists draw attention to efforts to eradicate modern-day slavery – in their own communities and around the world.

--Adapted from the United Methodist Women website


World Service, January 6, 2013

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