A newspaper in India recently reported facts from a UN document which singled out East Asia as a hub for intercontinental trade of human beings, especially adult women. One of the ironies of this report: Women often traffic other women, former victims become traffickers themselves. The report went on to say that, “We need to understand the psychological, financial and coercive reasons why women recruit other women into slavery.”
According to the U S Department of State, an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year. Of these, 80 percent are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors. Subjected to fraud, coercion, and violence, victims of human trafficking are stripped of human rights for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor. The International Labor Organization (ILO), an agency of the United Nations, estimates that there are 12.3 million people who are enslaved in forced labor, bonded labor, child labor, sexual servitude and involuntary servitude at any given time.
The uprising to fight against these atrocities implies that we believe that humans are not to be treated as commodities– that we must have some intrinsic worth and that freedom, somehow and somewhere, must be our birthright. What a hint this should be of in Whose image we have been made! We revolt against being enslaved, yet underneath it all we know we are made to serve. Our natural human selves cannot tolerate either option with our intense need to gratify ourselves through power.
Is it any wonder that victims turn around to become ruthless dominators? Sin evokes sin. Women enslave women all the time (did your words today make chains; did you laugh in mockery at the exploits of a woman in a reality television show; did you think it was cute when your little daughter acted or dressed in a provocative manner; did you not really listen to your sister or give the gift of restorative forgiveness to your mother?) Evil spreads with ease much like weeds and righteousness must be cultivated and tended to. Deal with all the psychological, financial and coercive reasons you want and you will come up empty until you unearth the sin nature and the ironic freedom of the enslaved Christ on the Cross.
I am convinced that we cannot deal with the oppression of women around the world until we look at our own. It is then and only then that we can shout the loud hope of Christ and the root of lasting transformation can grow. Women ask me “how can I make even a dent in the global problem of the oppression of women?” Start with your own freedom. Own your God-bestowed feminine dignity. Be discerning of the oppression all around you and how you might bring forth the truth of Christ and his kingdom, releasing prisoners from darkness where you are now. Be ruthless about sin, your freedom in Christ and your understanding of his kingship in your life. Be deeply concerned with your own righteousness.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…” (Galatians 5:1)
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)