Human Trafficking


As Jews, descendants of those who escaped from Egyptian bondage, we are committed to helping combat Human Trafficking, the modern-day slavery.

Human trafficking is an abhorrent human rights violation and a form of exploitation, generating profits of US $150 billion worldwide. As of 2016, the International Labor Organization reports that 11.4 million women and girls and 9.5 million men and boys were victims of forced labor. Of those, 4.5 million were sexually exploited. Approximately two million women and girls are trafficked each year, establishing a power dynamic in which they are reduced to chattel.

Causes of human trafficking include poverty (some being sold by fathers, husbands, and other family members in need of money) and lack of education.

In past years, women from the former Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries were recruited through registered businesses with promises of visas, international travel, good work, and the chance to help their families. Once recruited, they were often moved over the border, their passports confiscated, and forced into sexual slavery. Additionally, there were co-conspirators within regional and foreign governments.

More recently, victims from South America and Asian countries have included women working in manicure shops, massage parlors, and as domestic workers; and men employed in agriculture, gardening, and house painting. Some victims — Latinx, Eastern European, and Asian — are lured with jobs, but still owe transportation costs that they have to work to pay, sometimes working without breaks.

Some victims go willingly, but, within the United States, children have been abducted on their way home from school. Others have gone with strangers appearing to befriend them in shopping malls. Twenty percent of runaway children, often from foster homes, have been picked up by traffickers. (The average age when the process begins is fourteen.) These victims are forced into a life of slavery and torture in a sex industry often related to organized crime.

Therefore, Women’s League:

  • supports the creation of worldwide websites with further information and resources;
  • urges nations to enact legislation, and to adopt and enforce strong penalties against those who engage in human trafficking;
  • encourages the United Nations to act to combat the practice through agencies such as the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

Women’s League also encourages the media (television, radio, newspapers, social media, blogs, etc.) to:

  • devote public service time to expose this reality, and to provide information to at-risk young people and their families;
  • shame those procuring these illicit services, and to stop the public from demanding them.

We endorse changing the economic models that contribute to unfair labor practices resembling slavery (i.e. WSR: Worker-Driven Social Responsibility model). For instance, asking to see a beauty technician’s license may prevent a consumer from supporting slave labor.

In addition, whereas surges of demand for prostitutes in the United States are related to major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, the victims, some as young as 10 when they are arrested, are often charged with prostitution. If and when the youngsters reunite with their families, they need to undergo physical and mental rehabilitation before they can go on with their lives. Prosecutors and judges must be educated about the plight of young prostitutes as victims.

Therefore, be it resolved, members of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism:

  • Educate the public, including vulnerable groups, and encourage teachers and youth leaders to address the subject appropriately to their age groups; and to sponsor or mentor school clubs that seek to protect children.
  • Encourage school personnel, including administrators, teachers, counselors, nurses, child study team members, food service workers, and custodial staff, to be alert to students who may be victims, and to listen non-judgmentally if the student wants to confide in them. Then, they should seek professional assistance to help the student.
  • Encourage teenagers to go places in groups; teenagers going alone are more vulnerable to abduction.
  • Encourage citizens to notify law enforcement if they see something suspicious. The travel industry is currently educating its workers to identify possible victims and alert law enforcement to check out suspicious persons. Citizens should not confront the parties themselves.
  • Encourage our members within the U.S. to work with The National Human Trafficking Resource Center*, or a local equivalent, to help victims by identifying them and helping them out of their situations.
  • And, to coordinate all these activities, we support the formation of coalitions to fight trafficking in areas where such coalitions do not already exist.

Sex trafficking occurs when a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person performing the act is under the age of 18. Sex trafficking occurs in a number of venues, including the Internet, street prostitution, illicit massage parlors, containers, and other sexually oriented businesses.*

Labor trafficking occurs when individuals (men, women, and children) are forced or coerced into working against their will. Human trafficking is the second most prevalent organized crime activity in the world, just after drugs and illegal arms trafficking.*

* from Houston Area Council on Human Trafficking.