United States

Sex Trafficking: The US’ $9.5 Billion Secret

Philip Long

There’s a two square mile area in South Asia that houses over 15,000 sex workers. No one there had a choice.

At the age of 11, Ziba was sold to a brothel owner to become a “do-as-you’re-told sex worker,” according to Ryan Berg with the Aruna Project.

The small girl fought her first customer, but she couldn’t fight everyone off. Night after night she endured being raped and, eventually, those nights turned into years.

Horrific stories like Ziba’s seem to come at us from a distance, from a different world. But similar stories are happening in every city in the United States.

Mindy was 16 when she left her home in Florida. She met up with a friend and the two made their way to a hotel room. There, the girls met a man and two women who promised a life of luxury.

Mindy was told she would get a new identity, the chance to make money and the opportunity to travel the country. But the offer came with a price.

The three human traffickers pleaded with her for two days. Eventually, Mindy relented.

Immediately, the traffickers took her to a different state and posted her for sale, what they called “dates” online. Mindy’s advertisement was posted in three cities. She spent two weeks traveling to meet men for her dates. Then she was put on a bus headed out west and was used for three more weeks.

Mindy was forced to have sex with more than 200 men. Even though the men paid, Mindy never received a single penny.

Human trafficking produces $9.5 billion annually in the United States, according to the United Nations. If every human on the planet bought a $1 item from you, you would still be $2.5 billion behind the revenue generated by human trafficking.

Worldwide, an average prostituted victim may be forced to have sex 20 to 48 times a day, according to PolarisProject.org.

The purpose of the trafficking is not just for prostitution, but includes forced labor and organ removal.

God’s creatures who have been made in His image, breathed to life by God, are being marred, smothered and chopped up by trafficking.

As believers, we’re called to lead in fighting this battle to end human trafficking. Blair Pippin with Cru and an anti-human trafficking group in Florida, says there are three ways we can get involved.

  1. Pray. We can pray for individual people trapped in this cycle of abuse, as well as for law enforcement, non-profits and policy makers who are fighting it.

    “Pray for the traffickers and the buyers,” Blair said. “Trafficking happens because there is a demand for a ‘product.’ Without the demand for sex or cheap goods, there would be no trafficking. We need to pray for an end to the demand and for God to move in the hearts of the abusers.”

  2. Give. While we pray, we can seek out opportunities to give financially. Much of what is being done in the United States is new and local. Find out what local organizations are doing in your own city and support their work.

  3. Go. Raise awareness by sharing the problem and the ministries with friends, even “liking” and sharing links. Get involved at a local non-profit by volunteering your time. Raise awareness at your church and adopt a local non-profit.

As Christians, God’s heart beats within us, a heart that rages against the reality of the injustice happening. In the four minutes it takes to read this article four American youths will run away from home. In the next two days, two of those runaways will likely be recruited for prostitution.*

Today, Mindy is recovering from her sexual exploitation and has dreams of becoming a beautician. She was rescued by the efforts of a non-profit, local law enforcement and the prayers of God’s people.

Whether it’s praying, spreading awareness by sharing links, researching, giving financially, volunteering or seeking partnerships between nonprofits and churches, we can lead the way in ending this injustice.



  • International Justice Mission is a faith-based organization fighting to end human trafficking worldwide. The campus ministry of Cru is partnering with them on college campuses across the US.
  • A21 is strong non-profit that is following what they call the 4P program of prevention, protection, partnerships and prosecution fighting human trafficking in the US, United Kingdom, Europe and Norway.
  • Shared Hope works to eradicate human trafficking worldwide, working on both the domestic and international fronts.
  • The Aruna Project is bringing freedom to people enslaved in South Africa.
  • Agape International Mission is impacting over 10,000 people per year through prevention, restoration and reintegration in Cambodia.

Prayer Guide:

  • Land of the Free by Nick Canuso – A prayer guide that also gives an overview of human trafficking in the U.S.

Awareness Resources:

  • Just Church by Jim Martin – Guide for how your church can engage in the work of justice.
  • Renting Lacy by Linda Smith – Read real stories from survivors of sex trafficking in the states.
  • Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen – God is against injustice. Learn how you can fight with Him.

The story of Ziba is adapted from a story told by Ryan Berg with the Aruna Project.

*(Calculated by author using two stats: 450,000 American youth run away from home each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, and one in three youths are lured into prostitution within 48 hours, according the National Runaway Hotline).

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