Last night I had the privilege of meeting a pretty famous mom and attorney, Laurel Bellows, president of the American Bar Association, at a private reception for her featuring one of the most spectacular views of Shanghai (35 floor of the IFC 2 tower overlooking the river and the heart of towering Shanghai). In her comments to a group of lawyers and one out-of-place non-lawyer (me), she spoke of the ABA's initiative to fight human trafficking, an alarming and troubling problem. About 27 million people worldwide are trapped in slavery of some kind. Ugly. Here in China, one of the big problems is that small children are stolen and sold to others wanting them, either to raise as their own child or to exploit as a beggar or worker. According to reports printed last week in the China Daily, about 200,000 kids are stolen each year in China. Informed parents of infants and toddlers are especially nervous here and know they have to keep an eye on their kids all the time. Part of the problem here is that the penalties for being involved in human trafficking, including purchasing a human, have not kept up with the profit potential, so the business remains far too lucrative on average. The Chinese government has developed a 7-year plan to fight this plague. May they find rapid success way ahead of schedule.

In her comments, Laurel mentioned that there are also many thousands of Americans who are in slavery here also. But there are many people in slavery in America and almost everywhere else. This is a global problem with many dimensions. It's one that overwhelms me as I contemplate how depraved, painful, and widespread it is. Prostitution is a big part of it, but it also includes forced labor, child soldiers, and other ugly scenarios.

The ABA is helping companies to examine their supply chain to avoid companies and organizations that use slavery or otherwise support human trafficking in order to take away some of the incentive. They've also provided some useful resources, such as their Voices for Victims video and their excellent and detailed human trafficking toolkit for lawyers with lots of good information and resources for the rest of us, too. 
The menace of human trafficking is one that local Church leaders and members need to pay careful attention to. Are we prepared to meet the needs of victims? Are we able to recognize and rescue victims? Are we mindful of the risks to children and others at our events and meetings, and do we take adequate steps to protect our members and visitors? And are we as individuals doing anything to help? 

Some of you have been active in fighting this menace and understand it much more than I do. I'd appreciate your suggestions on what we need to understand and do to protect others and fight this problem.

By the way, the Bible's story of Joseph of Egypt is a classic story of human trafficking but with a happy ending. It's a reminder that in the depths of slavery may be many people with tremendous skills and gifts that could bless the world if only given a chance.

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