Resident Evil: Migration and Human Trafficking

Jennifer Roemhildt Tunehag throws the spotlight on one of the most pressing issues in contemporary Europe

Despite the abolition of the slave trade centuries ago, people are still bought and sold in Europe. The European Commission estimates that 120,000 women and children are trafficked into Western Europe every year. Ninety percent will be sexually exploited. The problem of human trafficking in Europe is immediate, immense, and profoundly evil.

In this darkness, the light of Christ is shining.  Christians across the continent are working to bring hope and help to those vulnerable to and victimized by human trafficking.

Since Moldova’s independence, nearly one in ten Moldovans has emigrated to find work in the West (some statistics indicate than one in four ‘economically active’ Moldovans is working abroad).  As many as two thirds of households in Moldova fall below poverty level, and 500,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in the past ten years in hopes of finding a way to provide for their families.

With limited options for legal migration, the most motivated seek other ‘opportunities’ to travel west, including risky transactions with smugglers and traffickers.  For those most desperate, the situation is different:  they are the hunted.  Young women in difficult circumstances may be “referred” to a trafficker for a percentage of the sale.  Hardship and lack of opportunity blinds others to the risks of a questionable job offer.

Moldovan Christians offer examples of divine creativity in their response to the issue in their country.  In addition to their prevention work in schools across the country and safe house in the capital, Beginnings of Life (BoL), a faith-based NGO, recently sponsored a national day of mourning for Moldova’s lost daughters.

The organization drew the attention of both government and the media to the plight of those trafficked from their country by setting up a “Wailing Wall” in the square in front of Parliament.  Inviting parents, friends, and neighbors of the missing to the Wall, Beginnings of Life worked with the International Organization for Migration to register information about missing sisters, daughters, and friends.  They also offered to pray with the grieving families.

The problem of human trafficking takes a different shape in Western Europe.  It is here that women, children, and men are purchased for exploitation.  The Evangelical Alliance of Spain has taken a lead in response to trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation (prostitution). Their work is yielding amazing results.

Aware that Spanish newspapers carry ads for sexual services, they engaged local Christians in a boycott.  Two national newspapers have stopped publishing the ads; further, those papers now regularly contact the Alliance for comment on issues impacting the country.  Spanish Christians have also campaigned against the use of slaves in chocolate production, in conjunction with Stop the Traffik, an international NGO.  As a result, Nestlé has changed to free trade cacao for the Spanish market.

The European Freedom Network exists to help the body of Christ in Europe – including partners like Beginning of Life and the Spanish Evangelical Alliance – work together effectively to prevent and combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation, and to seek the restoration of its victims.

EFN connects national Evangelical Alliances with active and emerging ministries and other stakeholders in their context, and serves those networks by providing the tools they need for effective cooperation and action. EFN works with Alliances to encourage and empower local churches and to build national and regional networks capable of addressing the issues of human trafficking and the needs of its victims.

The European Freedom Network currently consists of over 100 partners working together in 28 countries to build a bridge to freedom across Europe.

Jennifer Roemhildt Tunehag

You can read more about migration and integration in Europe in Issue 10 of Vista

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One Comment on “Resident Evil: Migration and Human Trafficking”

  1. Reblogged this on Walking By Faith in Europe and commented:
    We can’t afford to ignore this issue. If you care at all, please read!

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