Fighting human trafficking and the sex trade

A darkness of the human spirit and a lack of knowledge on the matter of human trafficking and the sex trade can lead people to either buy and sell others as slaves, or stand by, watch it happen and do nothing. This is where Sean Hannity’s message and John Luke Robertson’s efforts prove their importance. They create awareness, educate and encourage change.

By Georgiana Constantin l March 3, 2015

John Luke Robertson on stage at the Liberty University Convocation featuring Sean Hannity/Source: Screen Shot

I recently had the pleasure of participating in an event that spoke to the millennial generation. It gave me hope for the moral future of America. The gathering appealed to the hearts and minds of students  to share with them real life experiences from which they might benefit.

On February 18th, during convocation, TV and radio talk show host Sean Hannity addressed Liberty University students urging them to look within themselves, to become better people through faith and to stand up for their beliefs. He talked to them about the respect he bore for his parents, who struggled to be able to have a piece of the “American dream.” He shared his thoughts about how he feels he stands on the shoulders of those in his family who came before him and fought to make something of themselves and for their children. Hannity encouraged the students to take the lead and become the people who will bring about change in their country.

Another Liberty University guest that day was 19 year old John Luke Robertson of TV’s “Duck Dynasty,” who is going to become a Liberty student starting this fall. He went on stage to share with the audience the story of how he came to find one of his life’s most meaningful purposes and how he became involved in the fight against human trafficking.

The result of the Liberty University event was not only a theoretical incursion into the essence of what makes a good person or a good leader, how students would believe in themselves and aim for high and noble purposes, but, also a lesson in the tragedy that is human trafficking, what can be done to stop it and why one should care. Sean Hannity’s surprise pledge for John Luke’s anti-human trafficking efforts amounted to $50,000.  Yet, by example, his message to millennials is to become involved in this moral battle of our time.

In reporting on the event for Liberty University News Service, Drew Menard wrote, “Robertson, 19, briefly talked about how he has proposed to put action behind his faith” by creating “a center to help victims of human trafficking…with the goal of ending the sex trade” in his home state of Louisiana over the next six years.

Such a message is capable of inspiring and, indeed, encouraging millennials to take the lead in standing up for their beliefs against what is morally corrupt and wrong.

In an age dealing with many moral cancers, human trafficking and the sex trade stand out as the oldest and most immune to all forms of social treatment. It is an activity that keeps alive the slavery of ancient times, making circumstances even worse through new techniques of control, manipulation and violence. And, it is as prevalent in the United States as it is in any other part of the world today.

Around the world, organizations and governments are taking measures to ensure that human trafficking is ended.

The U.S. has taken a leadership role with the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (a.k.a. the Trafficking Victims Protection Act – TVPA) sponsored by New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith. It has become a useful tool in this dreadful fight, as are other documents and laws which vary from state to state. To date, TVPA has been reauthorized in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2013 and there is no reason to believe this will not continue.

Representative Kristi Noem of South Dakota has been particularly active in protecting victims of trafficking and violence. In the current 114th Congress, Noem has sponsored H.R. 350 and cosponsored H.R. 159 and H.R. 181.

Having such laws and regulations is an effective method of combating the crime, however, laws alone will not eradicate the problem. It is only through public revulsion and citizen activism along with a combination of law and general education of the population, especially among millennials that the issue might be more fully addressed.

The principal matter is that of addressing not just the supply but also the demand for the sex trade. And this is where societal awareness and youth education plays such an important role.

Dr. Joan Thomas, RN, PhD, Girls Against Porn and Human Trafficking tells SFPPR News & Analysis that “society is not aware of the extent of human trafficking. Especially, society lacks knowledge of the vast use of force, fraud, and coercion of victims for purposes of prostitution and pornography. The link between trafficking and pornography is also rarely recognized.”

Therefore, the best way to deal with the issue is to make sure that all facets of society are aware of the circumstances leading to human trafficking and the reasons behind the demand.

Dr. Thomas went on to add, “money and greed are always motivators. In addition, a darkness of the human spirit must also exist within a person which enables the selling and buying of victims.”

So, a darkness of the human spirit and lack of knowledge on the matter can lead people to either buy and sell others as slaves, or stand by, watch it happen and do nothing. This is where Hannity’s message and Luke’s efforts prove their importance. They create awareness, educate and encourage change.

Dr. Thomas shared her concerns with me and observed, “Human trafficking […] is a problem of immense proportion. The U.S. Department of State estimates that world-wide there are 4.5 million victims of sex trafficking.  Another 16 million are involved in forced labor. In the United States many believe sex trafficking is more common than labor trafficking. Approximately 25% of American children experience some type of physical or sexual abuse resulting in them often running away from home or engaging in other behaviors making them susceptible to traffickers.”

Addressing the same somber issue, Brenda Zurita writes in an American Thinker article that “human trafficking is a clandestine crime and few victims and survivors come forward for fear of retaliation, shame, or lack of understanding of what is happening to them. Numbers are not always the story.”

No matter how one thinks about these heinous crimes that comprise the sex trade, whether in terms of shameful statistics or of traumatic life altering experiences, it’s clear that new approaches, like John Luke’s high profile project given the public spotlight are necessary to deal with this age old vexing problem.

Hannity’s message was clear and resounding and his words were powerful: “We need your wisdom; we need your brilliance; we need your power; we need your courage. You are all young people; I want you to be courageous in your life. Feel the fear and do it anyway. I want you to look from the high dive. I want you to leap; I want you to jump … even if you are scared. I want you to be the leadership that is going to save this country. If you do this, then I will tell you that there is no evil, there is no economy, that cannot be saved.”

Georgiana Constantin is a law school graduate who has studied International, European and Romanian law at the Romanian-American University in Bucharest and received her Masters from the Nicolae Titulescu University in Bucharest. Ms. Constantin, who is based in Romania, is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.