Putting an End to Human Trafficking

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | May 11, 2013

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”
Abraham Lincoln

Did you know that:

  • Approximately12 million people are victims of human trafficking worldwide.
  • More than 100,000 American citizens – mostly young girls – are trafficked for prostitution within the U.S. each year.
  • Tens of thousands of undocumented citizens in our nation are in a situation of forced labor in sweatshops and agricultural work.
  • Human trafficking is a $31 billion per year industry.
  • The average age of entry into sex trafficking is 12 years of age.
  • One in three runaways gets involved in prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.
  • It is estimated that there are 12 million slaves around the world.
  • The Philadelphia region has been identified as one of the major hubs of human trafficking in America.

Those statistics echoed through the Horticultural Hall of The Chester County Historical Society in West Chester, PA as part of “A Bipartisan Call to Action to End Human Trafficking.” About 15 Valley Forge Christian College students and another administrator and I joined nearly 300 people who had one thing in common: let’s put an end to human trafficking by passing Senate Bill 75.

I wish you could have been there. I arrived early enough to look around at the displays in the Chester County Historical Society (CCHS) facility. Founded by local citizens in 1893, CCHS includes over 500,000 manuscripts, 20,000 volumes and what someone called “one of the state’s best collections of newspaper clippings.”

People started arriving and as they did you could not help but sense the excitement in the air. Extra chairs were added for the overflow crowd. The 90 minute program was filled with presentations by politicians, educators and average citizens. 

The host of the evening, Senator Andrew Dinniman, opened the event by providing an historical and geographical context for the meeting. “We are not in this building tonight by accident,” he began. “More than 150 years ago this very site was the epicenter in Chester County for the abolitionist movement and the underground railroad. William Penn’s Quaker ideal recognized that the light of God burns brightly in all of us and when we harm one of us, we harm all of us.”

The Senator’s words almost thundered in that old hall that night as he declared, “The time has come for a new abolitionist movement, i.e. to end human trafficking (in Pennsylvania and beyond) once and for all.” He acknowledged that there were many people of faith in that room and that all people of faith are people of conscience.

Sen. Dinniman was not alone in this call to action. Dr. Rob Lukens, President of the CCHS; Senator Stewart Greenleaf, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and primary sponsor of Senate Bill 75; Senator LeAnna Washington; Dr. Ellyn Jo Waller; Dr. Tonya Thames-Taylor and Carol Hart Metzker all spoke of this social malady and why Senate Bill 75 would help this important cause. At times I almost felt like I was attending an old-fashioned revival meeting.

The New Life in Christ Fellowship Choir from Coatesville, Pa. joined by their Lead Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Dan Williams, opened the program with a rousing rendition of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” And like the perfect book end, they closed the evening by inviting all of us to join hands and sing the old civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.” Their fervent music still stirs my soul to the core. 

The deep message of that night remains: we must disable the monster of slavery; we must sound the bell; we must break the legacy of silence; we can be in our generation a light on a hill which burns brightly; we must fulfill this obligation of citizenship.

William Wilberforce, the famous British Abolitionist once said, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
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