Friday, June 29, 2012

Trafficking: 'Tricked, Trapped, Traded'

NEW ORLEANS (BP) -- Sandy Wisdom-Martin didn't realize what she was getting into when she stepped through the doorway of the Diamond Cabaret, a strip club in East St. Louis, Mo.

It was 10 years ago, during Southern Baptists' evangelistic Crossover outreach that precedes each year's Southern Baptist Convention.

Wisdom-Martin was part of a Crossover team working to share Jesus with exotic dancers, a job "way outside" her comfort zone. The goal was simple: free these women from the exploitation and oppression of the sex industry through an encounter with Christ that would radically change their lives. Little did Wisdom-Martin know the experience would radically change her life as well.

Today Wisdom-Martin, executive director/treasurer of Texas WMU, was tapped to lead a breakout session on human trafficking during WMU's Mission Celebration and Annual Meeting in New Orleans, June 17-18, in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting.

The breakout, titled "Tricked, Trapped, Traded (Project HELP: Human Exploitation)," focused on raising awareness about human trafficking and giving WMU attendees practical steps they can take to join the fight. Project HELP is Woman's Missionary Union current initiative against human trafficking.

"The issue of human trafficking is part of a larger worldwide issue of slavery," Wisdom-Martin told the breakout audience, explaining that human trafficking is generally divided into two categories: sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

She introduced statistics from the anti-human trafficking website,, which reports there are 27 million slaves in the world today, the majority in India and African nations. Every year, thousands of slaves are trafficked into the United States, working in fields, homes, brothels and restaurants. The average cost of a human slave sold around the world is $90.

"Many victims that are trafficked to the United States do not speak English so they can't communicate with service providers or law enforcement officials who might be able to help them," Wisdom-Martin said.


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