April 23, 2012
A story is told about a child rescuing beached starfish from imminent death. One at a time, the boy tosses vulnerable starfish back into the ebbing tide. In light of countless others still trapped on the shore, an onlooker challenges the usefulness of the attempt. The child simply smiles and sets another starfish back into the life-giving sea: “It made a difference for that one.”
Human trafficking’s reach, as a $32 billion annual criminal enterprise -- and its impact upon the 27 million people enslaved -- is utterly devastating. The magnitude and brutality of modern slavery have the potential to overwhelm its opponents.
And yet, there is cause for hope. Recent victories are giving new life to the fight:
- Last April saw the largest rescue operation in IJM’s history, with over 500 people released from bondage in a brutal brick factory. The local government official who led the charge had earlier received specialized IJM training. He leapt into action with bold efficiency, securing physical and legal freedom for hundreds, keenly attending to families’ needs as they began the road to recovery.
- In December 2011, a crucial conviction was delivered in Cambodia against a high-ranking former anti-trafficking official, who now must face the legal consequences of offenses against those he was sworn to protect.
- Former slaves like Kutty and Govindhama have become community leaders. Now elected officials in their communities, Kutty and Govindhama address the challenges of others in their regions.
- As IJM celebrates its 15th year globally – and 10th anniversary in Canada – we have just launched our 15th field office in Pampanga, the Philippines. This work intends to leverage success in another region, Metro Cebu, where external evaluators reported a 79% reduction in the availability of children for commercial sexual exploitation
International Justice Mission is devoted to rescuing individuals from violent abuse. Yet we are also working to reshape the sand bars in the sea, so that those more precious than starfish can be kept from ever being jettisoned onto jagged shores. As our work expands to help transform public justice systems – police, prosecutors, the judiciary and social services – we are seeing the tide turn from despair to hope.
By God’s grace, together we can.
Rev. Jamie McIntosh is the Executive Director for International Justice Mission Canada
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