I wrote a paper on approaching sex trafficking through a social work lens a couple years ago. From the introduction:
The goal of this paper is to provide an overview of social work perspectives on and solutions for the problem of commercial sexual exploitation, or sex trafficking. Having advocated for U.S. government intervention to end trafficking in persons for five years, the author is now seeking broader perspectives and alternate solutions. Information on buyers of sexual services and traffickers is of special interest since the author knew little about them prior to this study. While most source information for this paper comes from the domain of social work, some comes from related domains such as psychology, sociology, criminology and gender studies. The problem of sex trafficking is found to be complex, requiring multi-perspective, multi-level interventions.
This literature review begins with an overview of the problem of human trafficking in general before focusing in on sex trafficking in particular. Characteristics of each type of actor, victims, buyers and traffickers, are presented. Finally, strategies for prevention and rehabilitation for each actor are proposed.
I found the research and writing process helpful in broadening my perspective on the issue. I had intended to “do something” with the paper but never did, so I’m just going to post it here:
Kevin Daum – Sex Trafficking in Social Work Perspective (2014)
Caveat: I thought of it now since I’m currently working on another paper and reading criticisms of anti-sex trafficking work from the perspectives of sex worker and human rights advocates. I have not re-read my 2014 paper using either of those lenses, so I’m sure it’s not very sensitive to the rights and concerns of consenting sex workers.
International Justice Mission (IJM) is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. Jim Martin is Vice President of Church Mobilization at IJM where he helps churches understand issues of injustice and engage in working to end violent oppression.
Q: Would you please share what prompted you to write The Just Church, and what your main objective was in writing the book at this time?
A: One day I had the realization that it was just a matter of time before I walked in to a bookstore and saw a book with the words “Justice” and “Church” in the title. Having been in ministry for eighteen years—ten of those as a pastor at a church passionate about justice, I realized I had a pretty specific perspective about what kind of book would be most helpful. I wanted to be sure that any book that encouraged churches to engage in justice in a hands-on way would make a strong connection between justice and discipleship rather than simply justice and mission. A few nanoseconds later I realized that, given IJM’s experience with churches over the last decade, we should write that book. I was just at the right place at the right time.
A review of Jim Martin’s new book, The Just Church.
“My faith, my theology, my life experience, simply could not accomodate Marta’s story. I wanted to unlearn what I’d just heard–to purge it from my mind. But that was impossible. I racked my brain for some comforting thought, some idea, some theological construct, some passage of Scripture that would quench the fire of emotion raging in my chest. I was uncomfortable with the level of anger I was feeling–rage, even–toward anyone who would destroy the lives of children like the ones in the pictures before me. But at the failure point, there is no such help, no easy answer. The faith I had brought with me to Peru simply failed” (The Just Church, p. 39).
So Jim Martin describes his first up-close encounter with violent injustice. What he describes is remarkably similar to the first time I heard the stories: Stories that begin with someone’s dignity being ripped away by someone more powerful and end with the hopeful response of God’s people resulting in rescue and rehabilitation.