On Monday July 1, Global EP CEO Cammy Bowker spoke on the Andy Griffin show with John Taylor, of
Operation Underground Railroad.
Click here to listen to the podcast episode on Spotify.
Bowker emphasized that human trafficking is a huge problem around the world, even in the United States. The problem is widespread, affecting everyone from orphans in Haiti to Bowker’s neighbors living five minutes from her St. George home. She discussed Global EP’s anti-human trafficking mission. The organization carries out different operations in the United States versus international locations, but the goal is the same: prevent human trafficking.
In the United States, the organization focuses on prevention education to keep people from becoming victims of the world’s fastest-growing crime. Internationally, Global EP helps people develop self-reliance, including marketable skills. Self-reliance keeps people out of poverty, which can drive people into including marketable skills. Self-reliance keeps people out of poverty, which can drive people into trafficking situations. According to Taylor, trafficking is a $30 to $40 billion (yes, billion) industry annually with 21 million victims, 2 million of which are children.
Bowker discussed her organization’s latest outreach initiative, the Safe Haven for Business Program. Under this program, victims know who to call when they want out of a trafficking situation. Businesses enrolled in this program offer their space as a safe place for trafficking survivors to go and start getting out of their situation.
Bowker and Taylor discussed populations vulnerable to trafficking. These include migrant laborers, who need food and shelter. Out of desperation for these basic necessities, these vulnerable migrants are drawn in by trafficker’s false promises of wealth, clothing, and security. In Haiti, people who cannot afford to feed their children often give them to orphanages. These orphanages, however, often have dire conditions and sometimes serve as fronts to human trafficking. Children in these orphanages, even when their parents are still living, are sold into restavek, a form of labor trafficking.
Bowker spoke about pornography’s underlying role in human trafficking’s massive growth. She said that the United States is the biggest contributor to the problem, where men are the world’s #1 consumer of pornography. Viewing pornography funds terrorist groups, which make a lot of the pornography that is available to fund their violent operations. It’s vital that parents discuss pornography with their children at an early age, as pornography is targeted at children starting at age 6. Parents should make a plan with their children on what to do if they come across pornography. Without a plan, children might feel ashamed and want to hide it, fearing they will get in trouble. This greatly increases the child’s risk for pornography addiction.
Any game or smartphone app with a chatting feature puts children and teenagers at risk of being trafficked. These include Fornite, Instagram, and Facebook. Even educational sites can serve as a human trafficking front. A common dangle is a fake modelling job, Bowker stated. This risk is especially high for teenagers, as self-esteem is a common struggle during teenage years.
Even when a parent is sitting next to their child on the couch, their child could be trafficked through an app. Parents need to set boundaries and educate their children and teenagers to prevent this from happening. It’s not enough to look through a child’s phone, as apps can be hidden or appear innocent.
As one study put it:
Bowker recommended that parents have open conversations with their children about internet safety, because “the more we talk about it, the more it becomes real.”
Conversations and trust between parents are children is number one in the fight against trafficking. If children don’t understand why they should not access certain sites, they might seek them out on networks without filters. Additionally, children who trust their parents feel safe coming to them when something suspicious happens online. Rather than feel ashamed, a child who trusts his or her parents realizes his or her parents are there to help.
The answer isn’t take smartphones away from children, as they will one day need to use a smartphone out of necessity, could easily sneak a phone. Taking a smartphone can alienate a child from her or his parents, consequently they might turn to a trafficker who makes false promises of freedom and makes them feel they are adults.
If a child or teenager is contacted by someone suspicious on social media, it should be reported to the police, Bowker said, as information can help with other investigations. Global EP recently partnered with The Cleaner Net, which distributes web filters that block pornography, gambling, and harmful gaming sites. Filters can prevent children from accidentally coming across harmful material.
For people who are trapped in a trafficking situation, Bowker spoke of hope for a way out. While situations can leave scars that take a long time to overcome, her organization offers a “soft landing spot” with aftercare for survivors. Global EP works with survivors personally. Mental health counseling, basic necessities, and other forms of support aid survivors. These services are critical to keeping survivors from being trafficked again.
Survivors return to trafficking 7 to 12 times on average because they lack this essential aftercare support.
Bowker works with 3 of the 5 human trafficking survivor experts in the United States. These experts draw on their personal experience of being trafficked to talk victims out of their situations. This is an essential part of Global EP’s impact in battling human trafficking. Victims are much more likely to listen to someone who has been on both sides of a trafficking situation. These survivor experts are familiar with the false stories and fears traffickers instill in their victims.
Taylor said “it takes money to rescue children and educate communities.” It is easy to donate,just visit Global EP’s site by clicking here. People can also donate items for Rescue Packs, which Global EP provides to survivors after they are rescued. These survivors cannot take any belongings with them, so they lack basic necessities such as toiletries and pajamas. To see a full list of needed items, click here. Volunteers can also help teach community members in countries such as Haiti, Dominican Republic, Belize, and Brazil. To go on a trip, click here.