With the grandiose concern over family breakdown and children's safety bordering (and sometimes transcending) panic and hysteria, the attention to sexual sin is like a laser beam honing in on people's souls. Please don't misinterpret me: family breakdown and buildup is a critical issue of relationship in our communities, as is our children's safety (although I must admit, putting socks over softballs during middle school ball games can probably be placed in the hysteria section).
Abolitionists like Kevin Bales and David Batstone (2004, 2007), estimate that 70% of slavery victims are used for sexual purposes. Even if they are trafficked for other reasons, many victims — especially women and children — are raped, forced into pornography, used as mistresses, or other sexual crimes. Healing from these things is not easily done… in fact, it is more akin to putting together a 5000-piece jigsaw puzzle of nothing but blue sky.
Sex sells. We know this.
But you know something? Sex sells even in Christian circles. Many new to abolition want to be "brothel-busters", focus on internet pornography, or deal with the many sexual elements of slavery because there is a glamour there. There is a spicier pull, if you will, towards sex than to other forms of slavery. When I engage in public speaking events, the majority of the room generally wants to know more about who's being sold for sex than slavery in supply chains.
First off: we cannot — CANNOT — lose our focus and passion for ending sexual slavery in all of its forms. Pornography truly does contribute to family and relationship breakdown, as it enslaves men and women on both sides of the camera. I do not want anyone to think this post is about ceasing to focus on sexual slavery. If the statistics are correct (and I believe they are), 70% of slavery victims are being sexually abused and assaulted. This is a place where freedom and restoration must take root.
Believers must examine their motives as to why they are focusing so much on sexual aspects of slavery. Is it due to some Victorian leftover of all things sexual being evil? Is it because we have encountered first hand how sex slavery ends life for all involved? Is it because… perhaps… it is a small hole of access to a world of skin? Don't gasp… it's been known to happen. And don't think any of us are above such curiosity.
Is it because this is all we know?
If the only form of slavery we know is about sex, there are far more people in bondage than the victims.
Also… (hold onto your pocketbook)…
Standing against slavery in totality will demand a lifestyle change from you. Don't stop at standing against sexual slavery, thinking you've done enough. The tantalite mined in the Congo powers your MP3… mined by slaves… slaves and slave owners who are given Congolese women for sexual playthings in those mines. Forms and faces of slavery are not neatly compartmentalized.
Something as simple as a Hershey's chocolate bar doesn't seem to matter much. But when the pressure is on to stop Hershey's from enslaving children in Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Zambia, Congo… some of us begin to think that this really isn't our problem anymore. The glamour has vanished. It's not sexy. We bow out.
Some abolitionists will indeed be called to confront certain forms of slavery specifically: sexual, labour, child adoption/soldiers, organ harvesting, chattel, caste, debt bondage… I would humbly ask that believers seek God's direction in how He would have us all serve. Jumping to the sex part… in panic, zeal, or lust can cause a great deal of damage even as it could offer momentum for good.
It is imperative that believers stand for peace, freedom and love in Christ against slavery in ALL its forms. If 80% of slave victims are female, 50% are children, and 70% are used sexually, there is one common denominator: 100% are victims.
Not one can be overlooked.