When you work in the human trafficking field, numbers begin to take on a certain significance. 

Some are ones we’ve all heard. 21-27 million – the number of modern day slaves. $32 billion – how much traffickers make a year worldwide, surpassing only the drug trade in the illicit market.

40.4% is the percentage of human trafficking cases from 2008-2010 in which the victim was a sexually exploited child (more here). I hope that one caught your attention.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes statistics make me numb. If anything, they begin sounding less valid each time I hear them. And in any case, what’s the difference between 20,999,999 people and 21,000,000? 

Actually, the difference is huge.

At Oasis USA, we believe that one person without the freedom to live a full life is one too many. We encourage entire communities to come together to become educated on human trafficking, utilize their local resources, and find out who in their community may be at-risk for being trafficked so that they may include that individual more fully. TFCs (TraffickFree Communities) have already taken root around the US, strengthening community ties and pouring compassion at-risk individuals, and that is what we will continue to do. 

We will love individuals, not statistics. 

"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.’ (Zechariah 7:9)

Yesterday was June 13th, 2013. 13 is the average age at which girls enter into prostitution in the US. The age is 11 for boys. 100% of these are non-consensual (more here).  The face of a child is what I think of when I see the number 13. 

But it’s also a beacon of hope. The 13th section or amendment of both the South African Bill of Rights and the American Bill of Rights outlaw all involuntary servitude, or slavery.  While we operate on the community level, our second focus at Oasis USA is to work with our global team, including Oasis South Africa.  We are seeking to protect these rights, and to bring justice to those who may not even know these rights can be violated.

In this age of widely disseminated numbers and statistics, I don’t want the number 13 to get lost in the jumble. I even pray that in my lifetime, it no longer represents a sexually exploited child. I want it to stand for justice.