WASHINGTON — Many people believe that the 13th Amendment put an end to slavery. Others believe that slavery does not happen inside of U.S. borders. The International Justice Mission, or IJM, a global organization that protects the poor from violence in the developing world, strives to change this misconception. Human trafficking is modern day slavery and is now considered the third largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “trafficking in persons is a global crime affecting nearly all countries in every region of the world. Between 2007 and 2010, victims of 136 different nationalities were detected in 118 countries across the world, and most countries were affected by several trafficking flows.”
While leading the investigation of the tragic genocide that had surrounded Rwanda, IJM’s founder, Gary Haugen “remembers being struck by the terrible truth that the Rwandans who had perished in the violence ‘did not need someone to bring them a sermon, or food, or a doctor, or a teacher, or a microloan. They needed someone to restrain the hand with the machete—and nothing else would do.’”
Haugen formed a new kind of human rights organization, “a group that would leverage the skills of criminal justice professionals to protect the poor from violent oppression.” IJM, now a team of nearly 600 lawyers, social workers, investigators, community activists and professionals, has rescued more than 18,000 individuals from oppression and convicted upwards of 770 perpetrators of human trafficking. Their vision is to “rescue thousands, protect millions, and prove that justice for the poor is possible.”
Justice System Transformation
IJM’s innovative model to drive maximum-impact, long-term change through their work is called Justice System Transformation. The three phases include: (1) collaborative casework by partnering with local authorities to rescue individual victims of a specific crime, bring criminals to justice and restore survivors; (2) system reform by launching collaborative projects that aim to dramatically improve the justice system’s response to the targeted crime; (3) sustaining gains by monitoring and evaluating results and continue to support our local government partners. The organization works by rescuing victims, bringing criminals to justice, restoring survivors, and strengthening justice systems.
University of Central Missouri’s IJM Chapter Makes a Difference
On Jan. 10, 2015, Missouri’s Deputy Attorney General Joe Dandurand spoke at the Black and White Benefit Ball in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, giving the legal perspective of human trafficking in the area. Guests included friends and family, professors, speakers, and prominent political figures such as Missouri Supreme Court Judge, Laura Stith.
Co-president of the University of Central Missouri’s IJM campus chapter Jacqueline Homer said, “At the benefit, speaker September Trible of Kansas City’s Street Hope said we need less disinterested observers and more fanatics to end this war. I wholeheartedly agree. Human trafficking is more than a ‘cause.’ It is a matter of life, death, and the emotional and spiritual suffering of millions of men, women, and children. This quote, spoken by Gary Haugen, has acted as kind of a theme for our group: ‘When our grandchildren ask us where we were when the voiceless and the vulnerable in our era needed leaders of compassion and purpose, I hope we can say that we showed up, and that we showed up on time.'”
According to Homer, “passion sets us apart from other organizations. Most of our officers and members are not studying in a field related to nonprofits; however, their fierce desire to see human trafficking eliminated drives their involvement. Our chapter of IJM differs from other campus organizations … We work hard. I mean, really hard. Our officers basically take on a part-time job with our chapter when they decide to be a part of our team. I am so grateful for their dedication, and I could not do it without them.”
Homer reported that the event raised more than $1,704 on behalf of IJM. With $1,704, IJM plans to finance one of the following:
- 56 Aftercare Packages for trafficking survivors
- Medical care for nearly 8 victims of trafficking
- Freedom training for 15 families recued from trafficking
- More than one month of investigations into trafficking situations
- Half of one rescue mission
“In January 2013, I heard Gary Haugen, IJM’s President, speak about human trafficking at the Passion Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. We were each given the picture of a trafficking victim with their story written on the back. As we read their stories, we also heard directly from a survivor of trafficking. I couldn’t believe that a problem that was so large had so little visibility and so many misconceptions in the United States. When he mentioned the need for college chapters, I knew what I wanted to do.” Homer concluded.
Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 states within the U.S. and numbers of trafficking victims in the United States is estimated in the hundreds of thousands. To get help or report a tip, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1 (888) 373-7888, or text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733.
– Eastin Shipman
Sources: Polaris Project, UN, International Justice Mission 1, International Justice Mission 2, International Justice Mission 3
Photo: Biz Journal