Unprecedented rates of human trafficking can be traced to the rise of abortion, contraception and pornography in modern culture, says a Catholic priest who has researched the topic for nearly a decade.
“There are more people trafficked now in the 21st century than in the transatlantic slave trade in the 17th, the 18th, or the 19th century,” Denver priest Fr. David Nix said at a local Theology on Tap address on Feb. 18.
Today an estimated 27 million people are enslaved, 800,000 of whom are trafficked across international borders for the purpose of sexual exploitation and 2 million of whom are children.
When he first began researching the issue, Fr. Nix said he thought that abortion and contraception “facilitated” modern-day slavery. However, after researching the FBI’s resources on sex-slavery, he realized that “trafficking is founded upon contraception.”
The account he read cited a 2004 story from The New York Times which detailed a police raid on a suburban home in Plainfield, N.J. Acting on a tip, the city police raided the home expecting to find an underground brothel.
Instead, they found girls ages 14 to 17 who were Mexican nationals with no documentation living in what was described as a “squalid, land-based equivalent of a 19th century slave ship, with rancid, doorless bathrooms; bare, putrid mattresses; and a stash of penicillin, 'morning after' pills and misoprostol, an antiulcer medication that can induce abortion.”
“Honestly, whose life do you think is made easier by the morning after pill: the 14 year-old girl who is taken ten or twenty times a night, or her 40 year-old trafficker?” Fr. Nix asked the crowd.
“Contraception and abortion,” he told CNA in a later interview, “are the new slave ships upon which children are trafficked.”
Along with contraception and abortion, Fr. Nix said pornography is the one of the other “rails” of modern-day slavery. Although, “porn is the demand” he said, “children are the supply, even if you’re looking at adults.”
While not everyone who looks at pornography will be lead to the child sex trade, Fr. Nix says the industry is so interconnected that no aspect of it is isolated from the other. If a consumer supports one part, he or she is contributing to the entire issue at large.
“Every time you look at pornography,” Fr. Nix stated, “you’re making sure children stay in slavery.”
As disturbing as this issue is, Fr. Nix said he fears that Catholics will “miss the boat” in working to abolish this slave trade as he says they did in the 19th century.
“Who ended the slave trade?” he asked. “We think of people like William Wilburforce,” the English politician who helped lead the abolitionist movement.
Evangelical and Protestant groups, Fr. Nix pointed out, have had more success in freeing victims from slavery than any government organizations, as the award-winning 2011 documentary, “Nefarious,” details.
This is not because Christian groups are “better at what they do,” but rather because “only the Cross of Christ can go as deep as those wounds.”
This is because “the shame of a girl who has been raped tens of thousands of times by the time she is 15 years-old is nothing money or education can fix.”
However, Fr. Nix said, without the Catholic Church, they will not be able to end trafficking.
Although Catholics “have so much to learn from evangelicals on this topic,” he said, “they won’t be able to beat trafficking until we bring them the Mass and Our Lady.”
The Mass is essential, the priest said, because it “makes un-bloody reparation for this bloody child-sacrifice that is demon-based.”
The intercession of the Virgin Mary is needed, he explained, because “whatever she asks – God gives!”
During the time of Lent, Catholics should devote their sacrifices to the end of human trafficking and abortion, especially while meditating on Christ’s Passion since he was also “trafficked.”
“He was handed over by a friend, put in a basement, had his body abused in a different way, and finally left for dead outside the city limit like so many kids in Asia,” Fr. Nix said.
Fr. Nix said along with prayer, people can get involved by being aware of and reporting any suspicious behavior, even in their own home towns, to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888.