Kathy Maitland
SG Member & Michigan Abolitionist Project Director
January 17, 2022

In 2013 I began my journey of leading a small grass roots organization, the Michigan Abolitionist Project (MAP), toward tackling what many say is the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time—human trafficking. During the last nine years, we have empowered many volunteer leaders who have been significant contributors to this movement. To stop human trafficking, we must band together to fight this injustice which is one of the fastest-growing criminal industries in the world.

what makes someone a target

Some factors that make individuals more susceptible to trafficking include low self-esteem, being abused or neglected, poverty, homelessness, being in the foster care system, or identifying as LGBTQ. These circumstances, along with others, can create many vulnerabilities. Especially for children and youth. Children are by nature vulnerable and these vulnerabilities are what traffickers prey on.  

Traffickers look for those ‘weaknesses’ because that is where they find their victims. With a sharp eagle eye, the trafficker is expert at spotting vulnerabilities and then soaring in to prey on their victim; to trick and manipulate them, and to exploit people for profit. They take a human life and turn them into a commodity for sale. This is what traffickers do, and they are skillful at what they do.  

However, the trafficker is just one part of the human trafficking equation. You see, the trafficker does NOT CREATE the vulnerability. The trafficker is simply EXPLOITING the vulnerable for his or her own gain. The trafficker then takes this supply to a market. And as long as there are people who buy exploited children, and there continues to be a market, traffickers will continue their illegal business. 

how do we stop this?

Sometimes even the biggest of problems can have a simple solution. Think about it.  The solution to world hunger is simply FOOD; the solution to homelessness is a HOME. However, it’s the implementation of the solution that becomes the challenge.  And that is also true when it comes to human trafficking. 

Human trafficking is a huge and complex problem in communities of all sizes across Michigan. It is growing criminal enterprise; much like a fortune 500 company operating underground and affecting over 24 million people worldwide. Yet, there is a simple solution to stop human trafficking and that is to eliminate the DEMAND.  If we could eliminate the demand that fuels exploitation, then there would be no need for people to be treated as commodities and sold in illicit markets. 

How do we end this demand?

If we dig deep into the root causes of exploitation, we see things such as child abuse, drugs, dysfunctional homes, pornography, economic greed—the list goes on. But I can sum that list up into one word—SIN. And what is the solution for SIN? The Church knows it—It is the forgiveness, salvation and hope we have in Jesus Christ! As a caring church community, isn’t this then our cause, isn’t it our responsibility to care {value everyone} especially for those who are in need and most vulnerable? 

Proverb 3:27 says: Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

four Ways to help stop human trafficking

  1. Become educated. Enroll in our 10-week educational email series, I Am an Abolitionist 
  2. We need good men to lead the way! Watch “Men Who Buy Sex” reach out to help others
  3. Support ethical businesses – visit slaveryfootprint.org 
  4. As Mother Theresa once said, “Go home and love your family”. Equip your children spiritually (kids and student programs) and practically (resources for parents)

Learn more about the work of the Michigan Abolitionist Project at map-mi.org.