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  • Writer's pictureGrace Episcopal Church

Global Issues of Human Trafficking are Local

By Deacon Mary Delancey


Before I begin this final article for Human Trafficking Prevention Month I want to thank those Gracers who have come along with me on this month-long journey. As well as sponsoring and attending the events this month, through this church’s generosity we have been able to fund a “Restoration Box” which provides the cost of one year of trauma-focused therapy to a survivor of trafficking, like Ruby in the story below.


This Human Trafficking Prevention Month we have focused largely on trafficking here in the US.  I would like you to follow me once more. This time into a place that is darker and much more uncomfortable than the other articles you have read in this series.


As you know, I served in the Philippines for a year providing aftercare for girls who had been sex trafficked. I saw the effects of the sometimes years of abuse and the painful beginnings of a long journey to healing and restoration that will likely take a lifetime. Since my return to Ocala I have been a volunteer leader with International Justice Mission (IJM) in support of their work to end human trafficking and other forms of violence for vulnerable people living in poverty. (To learn more about IJM’s talk with me or visit them at ijm.org.)


IJM began their work in the Philippines over 25 years ago. Working with the government and community organizations we saw a reduction of 79% in sex trafficking. Now IJM is addressing an even more difficult issue that links the US directly with what is happening in the Philippines halfway around the world.


In 2022 alone, nearly half a million Filipino children, or roughly 1 in 100 children, were trafficked to produce child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) for profit, with abuse largely driven by demand from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Europe. It is estimated that at any time 750,000 perpetrators of the abuse that generates CSEM are online.  Offenders in the US are responsible for more than one-third of the money sent to the Philippines to purchase CSEM. In this crime, an offender watches the abuse happen in real-time via video call. A recent study found that almost half of offenders sought direct contact with children after watching CSEM online.


In October 2023, along with other advocates I visited our elected officials in their Washington, DC, offices to convince them to pass a bill that would implement online safety rules to end streaming and sharing of CSEM. We are continuing to advocate for the passage of this bill.


I invite you to learn more about online sex trafficking from someone you has lived the experience. Finding Ruby is a six-part immersive podcast experience that journeys with Ruby, through the hell of an online sex trafficking den and out again to the light of justice, healing and restoration. There are times when the listening is tough, but if you stay with it, you will see why we fight for the end of trafficking, and learn about the power of a survivor who has become a warrior.


Thank you again for opening your heart to the vulnerable and suffering. And thank you for the support you have given me in this work over the years.



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