Ending poverty, ending violence

Locust Effect bannerMost people don’t live under the shelter of the law, but far from the law’s protection.

– United Nations


About seven years ago, I first learned about the horrors of human trafficking one Sunday at Ecclesia Hollywood.

Nearly 30 million people are currently enslaved.

About six years ago, I first read International Justice Mission President Gary Haugen’s book Good News About Injustice, and learned of the phenomenal work his organization is doing to combat modern day slavery and systemic oppression.

4 billion people are unprotected by the law … in
fear of everyday violence like rape, forced labor, and police abuse.

About five years ago, I first interned with Oasis USA, another anti-trafficking organization, and got even more educated about the issues, even more exposed to the brutality of bonded labor and sex trafficking.

For women ages 15-44, the odds of experiencing physical harm or death due to gender-based violence is greater than cancer, motor accidents, war, and malaria combined.

About four years ago, I moved to DC to work at Sojourners, an poverty-focused advocacy organization; I immersed myself in issues of justice and poverty, including systemic injustice and trafficking, and along the way, made a lot of friends who work(ed) at IJM.

Metro Cebu in the Philippines saw a 79% reduction in the availability of children for commercial sex after 4 years of IJM and local law enforcement partnering together.

Every year, I’ve learned something new, either about the brutal realities of injustice that plague people all over the world or about the tremendous work that is going on every day to bring light into dark places.

Gary Haugen’s new book, The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence, is out today, and it’s a good one, delving deeper than just quick fixes or band-aids, and challenging us both with the reality of how interconnected poverty and violence are and with the opportunity to change things for the better not just on an individual level but on the systemic level.

My old boss Jim Wallis likes to use the analogy of rescuing babies from a river. If you keep seeing babies floating down the river and you keep jumping in to save them, at some point you need to head upstream and stop whoever’s throwing them in!

This is the work of justice: not just rescuing those who are currently living under threat of poverty and the violence that accompanies it but also making sure that others never have to experience that life.

So what can we do? Awareness is the first step; action is the necessary second. Donors and development institutions can help by supporting the work of building professional and accountable police, and modern, functioning prosecutors, courts, and child welfare agencies.

  1. Awareness – Buy the book. Read it. Encourage others to understand the problem by doing the same. Check out the website.
  2. Spread the word – Tell your mom, your professor, and your barista. The global conversation needs your voice.
  3. Tell world leaders – Ask the world’s leaders to make this a priority. Start by signing the petition to the UN.
  4. DonateGive to help stop violence by donating to IJM’s life-changing work.

In short, I highly recommend Gary’s book and I strongly encourage you to go buy it.

Locust Effect badgeBONUS: If you buy your copy of The Locust Effect THIS WEEK, a generous friend of International Justice Mission will give $20 to IJM for every copy sold to help fight violence against the poor. What’s more, all the proceeds of the book’s sales will go toward the same cause.

Get educated. Get the book. Get involved.

Please.

Gary Haugen: The poor deserve equal protection by the law

From an op-ed in the Washington Post by Gary Haugen, President & CEO of International Justice Mission, author of the upcoming book The Locust Effect (out on February 3):

If you’ve been a tourist or business traveler recently in Kenya, India, Guatemala or any other developing country, you probably saw uniformed guards in the stores and offices you visited or hotels where you slept. The sight of these guards is so common that their presence most likely faded into the background. But they are emblematic of a massive social transformation that is passing unnoticed: Throughout the developing world, public justice systems are being replaced with private systems of security and dispute resolution. The implications for the world’s poorest people are devastating.

Businesses and economic elites in developing countries left frustrated by incompetent police, clogged courts and hopelessly overburdened judges and prosecutors are increasingly circumventing these systems and buying their own protection. In India in late 2010 the private security industry already employed more than 5.5 million people — roughly four times the size of the entire Indian police force. A 2009 World Bank report showed roughly the same ratio in Kenya. The largest employer in all of Africa is a private security firm, Group4Securicor, and in Guatemala, private security forces outnumber public police 7 to 1.

The repercussions extend far beyond the elites and businesses that buy safety: When protection must be purchased, the poorest are left with nothing to shield them from violence. In many developing countries, if you want to be safe, you pay to be safe. And if you can’t pay to be safe — you aren’t.

Read the full piece here.The Locust Effect

A Crime So Monstrous …

… is the title of a book by Ben Skinner, about human trafficking. And it’s aptly named. From my blog over on God’s Politics:

If there is one basic denigration of the image of God that lies in every human being, it is when he is treated as if he were not made in the image of God and forced into bonded labor, or when she is treated as if she had no value or dignity and made to offer her body for someone else to exploit and someone else to profit.

You can read the rest here: “Slavery is Alive and Well … For Now.” And if you live in the US, you can click through on the link to ask your members of Congress to take an important step to combating child slavery internationally by supporting the Child Protection Compact Act.

Human trafficking videos

Original post: July 30, 2009; repost: March 26, 2010. I thought I’d repost these to mark IJM’s Global Prayer Gathering, which begins in two weeks.

Sex trafficking:

Nigeria – Italy

Nigeria – Denmark

Russia

Argentina

India

UN Office of Drugs and Crime PSA

MTV PSA, featuring the Killers – “Goodnight, Travel Well”
60-second version

Full-length version

Also: Sex trafficking in Nepal

Human trafficking in the products we buy:

MTV PSA, featuring Radiohead – “All I Need”

Young Christians lament injustice

Last night, I was privileged to lead hundreds of young Christians in a time of lament as part of the Poverty and Advocacy track at Urbana 2009. We came together to cry out to God on behalf of those suffering from injustice and oppression, and particularly, as part of the Human Wrong Initiative, on behalf of millions of children trapped in modern slavery: in forced prostitution, forced labor, or recruited to be child soldiers. We came together to mourn the wrong that we see in the world, following the biblical precedents of the psalmists, of the prophets, and of Jesus, in engaging with God in prayer to seek change.

My role was to prepare the way for lament: to lay the biblical foundations, to provide a framework for engaging in lament, and to encourage a safe environment in which lament could take place. The rest was up to the students and God.

And boy, did we meet with God …

One of the last points that I made was that biblical lament stirs us to action and partnership with God. In Luke 19, Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He cried, “Oh, if you only knew the things that make for peace …” And then he went and cleared the temple. My prayer for those who engaged last night is that they use that session as a launching pad to do great and mighty things in the service of the kingdom of God.

[You can find recorded webcasts of the main Urbana 09 events here.]