Main Image Truth Trafficking Alexandru Zdrobău

The Truth About Human Trafficking in the West: Opening Blind Eyes

10 September 2021

4.7 MINS

Human Trafficking is a massive problem in the West today; however, many are blind to its hideous reality. As representatives of Christ, Christians have a duty to stand up for the dignity of every human life.

Blind to the Reality

Twenty years ago, I was invited to a meeting to discuss “human-trafficking.” Held at the Salvation Army Center on D.C.’s New York Avenue, only ten to fifteen D.C. policy analysts were invited — feminists, conservatives, evangelicals, politicos — and none of us had previously heard of the term “trafficking.”

That meeting, convened by Michael Horowitz, then at the Hudson Institute, opened our eyes to a problem that is now addressed at the national level as well as internationally through cooperation among nations. This is a consequence largely of the diligent work of those whose eyes were opened that day.

Before that meeting, sex trafficking was seen as something that happened elsewhere; it didn’t affect Americans. Besides, it was an “underground” kind of crime that was isolated and rare.

Through Horowitz’s passion, we learned that we had been blind to reality. With our eyes opened, we had to do something!

I got involved by helping to draft the original Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), lobbying to get it passed, doing the same for subsequent reauthorisations, and providing manpower in the bipartisan coalition that Horowitz spearheaded to provide a foundation for anti-trafficking work.

This effort was incredibly effective under the Bush 43 administration and flourished dramatically during the Trump administration through the leadership of Ivanka Trump Kushner.

Continuing Apathy

While there are many achievements to celebrate today, there is an overarching problem that has yet to be resolved. The “blind eye” problem remains an issue: people still don’t see what is happening right under their noses.

Many Americans still think the issue of human trafficking is other nations’ problem. Far too many people fail to see that trafficking victims exist in plain sight. They don’t realise that there are many children under eighteen right here in the United States who are prime sex-trafficking victims.

Many people are unaware that boys, as well as girls, are victims of sex trafficking. Few know that the National Human Trafficking Hotline receives an average of 150 calls per day.

The Magnitude of Human Trafficking

Let’s begin with some basic information. Human trafficking is big business.

  • According to the Polaris Project, one of the outstanding anti-trafficking organisations in America, trafficking is a “multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 24.9 million people around the world.”
  • In 2014, forced sexual labour profits were estimated to be at $99 billion worldwide, with the highest profits in developed countries. It has been called “Modern Day Slavery” because traffickers buy and sell women — over and over again until the girl is used up and discarded.

Numbers are often thrown around carelessly, but we do have some concrete numbers from Polaris.

  • In 2018, Polaris worked with 10,949 cases through its National Human Trafficking Hotline. The people there estimate that those cases “involved 23,078 individual survivors with 5,859 potential traffickers and 1,905 trafficking businesses.”

It’s Happening in the West

Sadly, most people think sex trafficking doesn’t affect them or anyone in their community. Yet the most recent annual report from the State Department, 2019, “found the top three nations of origin for human trafficking victims were the United States, Mexico and the Philippines.”

In the U.S., illicit massage parlours (with profits estimated at $2.5 billion) are a cesspool of sex trafficking, and there are an estimated 9,000 illicit spas across America, from suburban strip malls to the bowels of inner cities.

Runaway children and girls in foster care are particularly vulnerable and are viciously targeted by traffickers. There are an estimated 18,000 to 20,000 victims trafficked into the U.S. every year.

Christians Involved in Anti-Trafficking Efforts

Many people tend to think anti-trafficking efforts are dominated by secular progressives and are unaware of the vital leadership and work of conservatives and evangelicals in the anti-trafficking movement.

As a conservative, evangelical leader involved in bipartisan anti-trafficking efforts, I received the “Abolitionist” award from the Bush 43 State Department. Sadly, even then, there were activists of all political stripes who were unable or unwilling to work with those who embrace a different ideology or a different faith.

Then — as now — the best work is done when people are willing to work together on crucial issues, regardless of political or religious views. As the old saying goes,

“It is amazing all that can be accomplished as long as it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.”

Unfortunately, progressive groups typically have better public relations personnel and expertise, so the work of conservatives and evangelicals is usually under the radar.

Raising Awareness

About five years ago, I was contacted by a group of Emmy Award-winning producers who wanted to do a documentary about sex trafficking.

I was happy to work with Ships of Tarshish, a company producing top-quality television and film documentaries on social issues, identifying for them effective, solution-oriented activists who are at the forefront of anti-trafficking efforts. The Ships of Tarshish producers are committed to Christian programming that is excellent both in content and production and to having their products distributed to reach all Americans.

In January (the National Human Trafficking Awareness Month) in 2020, their sex-trafficking film, Blind Eyes Opened, was released in theatres across the United States. Blind Eyes Opened is a unique Christian documentary in that it is an in-depth examination of the sex-trafficking industry in the U.S.

The film shows the dregs of depravity that drives the industry, but, more importantly, it shows the transformations that are possible through Christ. Further, it shows the interconnected roles of law enforcement, policymakers, organisations, ministries, and experts in combatting the scourge of trafficking.

Most importantly, it demonstrates the hope that is in Christ and the power of His love that will cover the worst that can happen to anyone!

Blind Eyes Opened


Our eyes need to be opened to what’s happening right under our noses, often right in our communities. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children states that 73% of the 10,000 child sex-trafficking reports it receives per year involve internet advertising via Backpage.

We say we care about women and children, but, even with all our successes, we are a long way from ending human trafficking. When we focus on one aspect of the problem, another one opens up. We need to learn as much as we can and be prepared to get out in front of the problem.

You can start by getting a group of your friends and colleagues to see Blind Eyes Opened to learn important truths about sex trafficking in America.

Then do your part to end this terrible exploitation of young boys, girls, and women.


Editor’s Note:

In Australia, the Hon. Paul Green MLC, a committed Christian, has done incredible work to combat modern-day slavery in New South Wales. His Modern Slavery Act 2018 became the first anti-modern day slavery bill to pass an Australian Parliament.

Unfortunately, the Bill, and Green’s role in combatting human trafficking in Australia, was hardly recognised by mainstream media at the time. To this day, few people are aware of the reality of human trafficking in Australia today, the Modern Slavery Act 2018 or Hon. Paul Green’s work. Green, a member of the Christian Democratic Party, was voted out of parliament in the 2019 NSW State Election.


Originally published on Image by Alexandru Zdrobău on Unsplash.

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