I’ll never forget another Quadrennial Assembly – 1986, I think – where the speaker asked us to simply stand up if we had ever known a woman who had been physically abused. The eerie whisper of rustling skirts and shifting chairs still haunts me – the sound of nearly every one of those thousands of women quietly rising to her feet.
The similar moment in this assembly came for me on Saturday toward the end of a dramatic presentation about human trafficking. Human trafficking is modern day slavery. It is taking people against their will across national borders and forcing them to work, often in the sex trade or other inhumane conditions. How does such a thing happen in this day and age?
And yet it does happen, to hundreds of thousands of people – mostly women and girls – every year. Trafficked persons end up everywhere – including in the United States. It is estimated that 600,000 to 800,000 victims annually are trafficked across international borders worldwide. Again I ask, how does such a thing happen?
The presentation that so touched me at this Quadrennial included a dancer, four speakers and some drummers. In dance, percussion and narrative, the stories were told of women taken and held against their will. Fearful for their lives. Longing for the sights and sounds of home. But invisible and silenced. At the end of the drama, they asked, in the words of the familiar television commercial refrain, “Can you hear me now?” . . . The question echoed through the still auditorium.
It requires an answer.
The good news is Disciples women are on it. We’ve shown the ability to address social issues and human need. Carrie Nation and her axe is not just a stereotype of how ferocious we can be. Our story of overseas mission begins with the Christian Women’s Board of Missions – successful where the men had floundered. The story of a century of domestic social service begins with 6 women over coffee in St. Louis deciding to make a difference in the lives of children – and doing it.
Human trafficking is a scourge on humanity. It is big and complicated. But in the midst of complicated issues on which we do not agree, surely this is one on which we can make common cause.
The Disciples Women’s web page at: http://www.discipleshomemissions.org/pages/site-search?query=human+trafficking contains ideas on how you can get involved.