I recently watched the much acclaimed "Half the Sky" documentary and was particularly moved by the Somaly Mam segment, wherein a former sex worker, Somaly Mam, now has a internationally known program that rescues underage sex workers from horrible, abusive situations in her native Cambodia, and across Southeast Asia.
Many of her girls (literally, girls from ages 3 and up) have been tricked into sex work by the promise of a job in the big city or were straight-up sold into prostitution by their desperate, impoverished families.
Being sold or tricked into unpaid, unwanted sex work is called sex trafficking and it is a serious problem, not just in developing countries like Cambodia and Thailand, but also, here in the United States.
What I didn't know, and was really excited to find out, was that trafficking was already on the radar of the Salvation Army. As we seek to 'Do the Most Good" fighting trafficking is a clear calling for us as an organization. We routinely feed the hungry, and shelter the homeless and minister to widows and orphans, but what about "freeing the captives"? Human trafficking has been called "modern slavery"; and the numbers support it. An estimated 2 million women and children are sold into sexual slavery around the world, every year. And even in the US, it is estimated that 14,000 to 17,000 victims are trafficked annually.