The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson is the moderator of the Metropolitan Community Churches, which has ministries in over 40 countries. Dr. Wilson was part of the first religious LGBT delegation to meet with a U.S. sitting president in 1979. She is currently a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
The White House announced a forum to review progress on the fight against human trafficking, a cause to which President Barack Obama proclaimed his commitment in his groundbreaking speech in September of 2012. One partner group is the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which released a report called, “Building Partnerships to Eradicate Modern-day Slavery” on 10 April 2013. (Full Report)
The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) and member of the Council, said, “Today, we stand against the sexual or economic enslavement of any human being. We are abolitionists from all religions because we share the belief that each human being is a creation of God.”
The report states:
There are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history, with an estimated 21 million in bondage across the globe. … Victims of modern-day slavery include U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, children and adults, who are trapped in forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation, with little hope of escape.
Trafficking in persons is estimated to be one of the top-grossing criminal industries in the world, with traffickers profiting an estimated $32 billion every year. The extraordinary reach of this crime is shocking—with cases reported in virtually every country in the world…
“With over 77% of victims being persons of color and the targeting of homeless youth, 40% of whom are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, our mandate is clear,” said Dr. Wilson. “Prejudice makes people vulnerable to hate, to violence and to being enslaved so we must challenge prejudice wherever it is.”
The report made 10 recommendations ranging from scaling up the fight against slavery throughout the world, minimizing purchase of slave-produced goods, anti-trafficking work by government agencies, ad campaign, hotline, national summit, call to action and “tool kit” for religious groups on what to do.
“All MCC congregations and faith leaders understand that it is our stories that change hearts and minds. We are walking a path toward freedom and must bring others with us. When anyone is enslaved, we are all enslaved,” said Dr. Wilson. “When a child or worker cannot tell their story, we must tell it for them and work for their freedom.”
The report highlighted the stories of:
- A child in Southeast Asia who was forced to dive for fish since he was 5 years old and beaten over the head with oars if he surfaced too quickly. When he makes it to a shelter and is taught to sing “if you’re happy and you know it,” he does not know how to smile.
- A woman in Texas who was forced into prostitution by a group of men who targeted single mothers through their children’s daycare.
- A boy in East Asia who became a child soldier because he could not come up with a $14 bribe to pay off the police and was sold by them.
- A woman in the Middle East who, despite frequent beatings, held on to her humanity strongly enough that when she was instructed by her traffickers to beat the children she cared for, she refused. Her traffickers poured boiling water over her head, creating wounds that still festered three weeks later.
- A child in Afghanistan who was sold to a family to work as a domestic servant, and when they found him not very useful—at 4 years old—they set him on fire and left him for dead by the side of the road.
- A teenage girl prostituted in New York City who was repeatedly mistaken for a criminal rather than seen as a victim. She was seen this way maybe because she did not look as people expected or was hardened by the torture she had been subjected to, or maybe because nobody found her in time.