The increase in human trafficking among American children has prompted a faith-based rescue organization to partner with local and national churches for a campaign aimed at men in an effort to dissuade them from partaking in the sex slavery industry.
Seattle-based Compassion 2 One is behind the "Protect Her" effort that will launch this fall and hopes to reverse the desensitization of pimps who view minors as commodities.
"How do we stop human trafficking in the modern world? The response that we came up with was demand reduction," said Phil Martin, national director of Compassion 2 One. "You have to stop men from buying commercial sex and from entertaining the sex industry…it's the law of supply and demand."
According to statistics, nearly 300,000 children are trafficked within the United States each year between the ages of 11 and 16 years old, sometimes even younger. In King County alone, where Compassion 2 One is located, trafficking is considered among the highest in the nation with 300 to 500 girls involved in some form of slavery.
Martin says Washington state is currently leading the legislative charge against trafficking in the U.S., however, his organization is taking matters into their own hands since not enough is being done to crack down on the issue, he says.
"Our message through the campaign is to prevent the problem before it starts…the larger agenda is a call to raise healthier families, have better marriages and establish the right priorities so that men and women don't end up in these situations," said Martin.
In addition to pledging against participation in trafficking activities, all men involved in the campaign will also make a commitment to begin talking about the realities of the commercial sex industry, and donate time or money to organizations that work to combat the problem.
Furthermore, the churches involved will host awareness events, trainings and fundraisers. But in order to create a large-scale movement, Martin says he would like to see local churches lead these initiatives and incorporate similar outreach efforts into the "DNA" of their congregations.
Martin also says Christian men are not exempt from joining the campaign since pornography addiction is known to be a common problem among them, which can possibly lead to the involvement of human trafficking, he explains.
"Porn is where men first learn to devalue a woman and entertain their own sense of pleasure and gratification," said Martin. "Once you view 'just a little porn,' it doesn't stop there, you view more and eventually the fantasy isn't good enough anymore so you have to live out your fantasy. This is where men seek services of women who are often trafficked."
While women and girls are involved in sex trafficking, Martin emphasizes that men are the primary individuals responsible for its demand, adding that "it's like ordering a pizza but you're buying a human."
In addition to launching Protect Her, Compassion 2 One focuses on providing awareness training to a variety of different groups ranging from educators, counselors, parents, pastors and law enforcements agencies, among others, domestically and internationally.